October 18, 2012
Educators across the country agree that schools need more students to excel in science, technology, engineering and math subjects, usually referred to as STEM. Hooking students on these subjects remains a challenge, especially for generally low performing schools with few resources. The Buffalo Public School system has been using some lateral thinking to address the problem, sending teachers back to summer school to sharpen their skills in those fields.
Schneider leads me to her school’s new courtyard with a stream, pond, blueberry bushes and a pile of rocks.
“Every single rock here is a rock that students need to know in earth science,” says Schneider. “They’re out here, they’re engaged. It’s very hard sometimes to get a 16-year-old interested into science. But they’re engaged and they’re learning. And they’re able to bring all of this into the classroom.”
A visit to the courtyard is a mini field trip, without the need for permission slips. Physical science teacher Michelle Zimmermann says it’s often students’ first encounter with nature.
“They’re not used to it. Or they think it might be dirty. A lot of them have never had that experience,” says Zimmerman. “To get up close to water, to come out here and take a sampling and go into a laboratory and look at what’s in the water. So that it’s not just ‘Here’s something in a cup, look at it, see what it’s like under a microscope. They actually understand where it comes from and how it got there.”
Read more and hear the story at the Innovation Trail website