Under the Microscope: New science focus at Tahoe Lake Elementary
TAHOE CITY and#8212; A quiet change has taken place at Tahoe Lake Elementary School, and a new focus on science has emerged at the campus.
and#8220;A year ago, we made the decision to incorporate a science emphasis on all our curricula,and#8221; explains Stephanie Foucek, who was vice principal at the time. Today, as principal, she sees the science concentration coming into focus more every day.
Foucekand#8217;s enthusiasm is evident as she explains the new direction for her school. and#8220;In everything we do, our teachers are incorporating a science theme,and#8221; Foucek said. and#8220;Our goal is to provide meaningful science education through hands-on learning and a focus on the inquiry process. We are even incorporating it into non-science subjects like math and language arts.and#8221;
Tahoe Lake Elementary School has adopted Full Option Science System and#8212; or FOSS and#8212; as one of the guidelines for including science in daily activities. FOSS is a research-based science curriculum for kindergarten through eighth grade developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley. The FOSS project began more than 20 years ago in response to growing concern our nation was not providing adequate science education.-
and#8220;Making observations, testing ideas and recording results into journals is just part of the way our teachers are encouraging science in their daily activities,and#8221; said Foucek. and#8220;Concepts are then reinforced through other avenues, such as songs, poetry, and games. The way we learn about our world and how it works and#8212; itand#8217;s all science. When students are actively engaged in asking questions about their world, the road to learning suddenly becomes a fun ride. Kids become empowered by that knowledge.and#8221;
Last fall, Tahoe Lake kindergartners chose a tree on campus, which they are following through the seasons. They covered the water cycle, learning about solids and liquids (water, ice, snow); and a unit on wood and paper gave them the hands-on experience of exploring the properties of wood and various paper products. Spring science will involve learning about animal parts and structure with a variety of live animals, including fish, snails, and worms.
and#8220;The highlight for the kids is incubating eggs and raising baby chicks,and#8221; says Gay Thomas, Tahoe Lake kindergarten teacher. and#8220;They are so excited to come to school every day to check the progress.and#8221; First grade students explored science themes such as the ecosystem, animal and terrarium habitats, and the three states of matter. Students have been engaged in a variety of learning activities, including edible experiments and mixing forms of matter, and concepts have been reinforced using games, songs, books, art projects, and and#8220;Hands-On Science Fridays.and#8221;
Tahoe Lake second graders traveled to Taylor Creek last fall to observe the Kokanee salmon as part of a life cycles study unit, and also made trips to the farmersand#8217; market for plant life cycles and nutrition. They have also learned about the life cycle of meal worms, and studied honey bees and butterflies. Songs and vocabulary have also been reinforced in practice for a play, Life Cycles, which all third-grade students perform.
In an astronomy unit, third graders have studied the night sky, demonstrated how the moon gets its light in the sky, made visuals of the lunar phases, and created moon models that now populate the schooland#8217;s upper hallway. They also have a weekly rotation for hands-on science experiential learning.-
At all levels, teachers incorporate the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model of learning, which involves additional collaboration among grade levels and across schools to share how students are progressing and how to reach all levels of learners. Foucek says the staff is embracing the science focus and as a group, they even dressed up as and#8220;mad scientistsand#8221; for last Halloweenand#8217;s school costume parade.
and#8220;Scientific exploration is not only about what we know, but how we come to know it,and#8221; Foucek explains. and#8220;With our science focus, we are encouraging critical thinking skills for students and#8211; a skill that they will take them through all their school years and ultimately into their adult lives. It can and#8211; and does and#8211; begin in elementary school, and we are excited to be part of it.and#8221;
Tahoe Lake Elementary, located in Tahoe City, Calif., is an English mainstream elementary school and includes kindergarten through third grade. Families wishing to enroll their incoming kindergartners should attend the Kindergarten Registration Night, Wednesday, March 30, at 6 p.m. For additional information, contact the school at 530-583-3010 or visit ttusd.org.
and#8212; Provided by Switchback PR + Marketing on behalf of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.
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