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The Inspired Science Teachers

Elementary school science teachers, molecule enthusiasts, biology buffs,
scientific method fanatics 

The science room at the elementary campus is as close to a fun-house as a student can get within the context of school. There are planets hanging, plants growing, robot components waiting to be assembled—it’s stimulating just being there.

When Anna Boucher and Christie Carter add smart, engaging curriculum to the mix, things really take off. So do their students.

Last year, Anna and Christie introduced new units inspired by their own learning at the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) conference, a two-day session that attracts hundreds of teachers and professors from kindergarten through college. The Wildwood science teachers are able to attend this dynamic conference thanks largely to contributions to the Annual Fund.

“The conference is invigorating,” says Christie. “We come back with new ideas and lesson plans, and we get to put on the student hat to actually do the lessons.”

Those lessons have found their way back to the Wildwood elementary science room. For example, 4th graders learned about land erosion using curriculum and experiments Anna picked up during a CSTA workshop with a NASA scientist. “To have someone tell you how to focus your curriculum is so real-world,” Anna says.

The NASA scientist showed teachers how to use Earth’s landforms to help explain landforms on other planets. Taking his cue, Anna had her 4th graders write a hypothesis about how the Grand Canyon was formed. Then they put their theory to the test, using the experiments Anna learned at the conference.

“It was brilliant,” says Anna. “Fourth graders were making really big leaps in their thinking, just like real scientists do. There were so many elements to the unit: hands-on experiments, research, writing, and good, deep thinking.”

While Anna’s 4th graders were eroding land, Christie’s Pod students were learning about the importance of measurement using curriculum from one of the CSTA workshops she attended. Students first considered how the ancient Egyptians measured the blocks that make up the great pyramids. Then they did experiments using different weights and measures. At the end of the unit, students not only understood the importance of consistent measurement, but also had been introduced to the metric system.

“My favorite lessons—those that are the most effective and where kids are most engaged—come from CSTA,” Christie says.

The Annual Fund makes it possible for Anna, Christie, and other Wildwood teachers to attend important conferences and workshops every year. You can support this work by making your gift to the Annual Fund today. Click here to make a gift or pledge.

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