Scaling Access to High-Quality Science Education

Published April 2023

Critical thinking, problem-solving, and hands-on learning

In every classroom in our elementary schools, students are taking on the roles of scientists and engineers to figure out real-world phenomena. This year, with the help of science specialists at every school, we are scaling access to high-quality science education for all of our youngest learners. While there were already science specialists at our three magnet elementary schools, adding specialists at Somerset Elementary and Mendota Elementary is a way to guarantee a baseline of science time across all schools.

Why Focus on Science
Early science education equips students with fundamental problem-solving skills, encourages curiosity, and fosters critical thinking. Kim Benton, a Garlough Environmental Magnet School science teacher, shares that science education is essential because it explains how the world works. “Science allows students to observe, ask questions, test ideas out, and prove the validity of our assumptions,” Kim says.



As the district’s environmental magnet school, students at Garlough make connections to the outside world through science every day. “Students are encouraged to say ‘I notice. I wonder. It reminds me of.’ every day. That’s science—constantly connecting with our surroundings.”

What Science Looks Like in the Classroom
Each grade level completes four different units a year. Earlier this year, first graders learned about plant structures and their functions. At the end of the project, they designed and built solar “flowers” to mimic how plants get energy from the sun. Their solar stand accomplished the function of absorbing the light from the sun like the leaves of a plant, and the strong frame mimics the strong stem of a plant.

Katie Holten is the new Science Specialist at Mendota Elementary. Her favorite unit she has taught so far this year is the third-grade study of space. “I made a scale model of the solar system for the students to interact with. Students learn about the size, distance, and planets in our solar system by seeing the model unspool down one of the hallways at Mendota. This helps make the learning fun and helps students begin to grasp the vastness of our place in space.”