Students at General Greene experience Science in a variety of ways.
At General Greene, students have the privilege of coming to the science lab as one of their specials. Similar to art, music, and PE, students visit the lab every week for 40-50 minutes. My teaching style in the lab is hands-on, real-world based, high-interest and it provides kids with a chance to become student leaders. Students engage in experiments, explore the outdoors, utilize technology with virtual field trips, apply their knowledge through STEM learning and play with scientific tools to figure things out. Students in grades 3-5 get to dissect animals in small groups. The third-graders dissect squids, while fourth-graders dissect frogs and fifth-graders dissect the dogfish shark. Our K-2 raise ladybugs, butterflies, mealworms and hatch chicks.
Thanks to the PTA and the many people who had this position before me, we have quite a few resources in our space. Microscopes, dissecting tools, digital scales and beakers are just some of the tools we have available. Our collections are just as extensive. I have my choice of insect or leaf collections, animal bones, rocks, and soil samples. And you can’t forget the large amount of consumables and manipulatives such as trays, yarn, marble runs, and dominoes.
School Grounds Resources
Students and teachers have access to science learning outside as well. We have a fossil pit with marine fossils from the Aurora Phosphate mine. It is a big hit and kids can often be seen at recess trying to find shark teeth.
If you travel further down the playground, you will come across our nature trail. In fifth grade, we use this to teach the kids about ecosystems and plant/animal interdependence. I like to take each grade down at least once during the year to learn about the science found in such a fun space. We may get muddy and a bit wet but that is a part of science.
Beside the nature trail, we have a covered outdoor classroom. It has been used as an outdoor writing area, science observation point or a new space for learning. We are very grateful to our Boy Scout partner who provided the covering for that space.
Pond, Greenhouse and Garden
In the middle of our school, we have a pond, greenhouse and multiple raised beds. My students and I had the most fun scooping up water samples from our pond. We were fascinated by the macroinvertebrate diversity and used the microscopes to see single-celled organisms. Some specimens were so cool that they had to be shared with other staff members and school mates.
Our third graders are primarily responsible for the garden, however, everyone lends a hand at different stages. We are so proud of the donations we have made to Greensboro Urban Ministries. We have donated brussel sprouts, kale, mustard greens, collards and have even gotten to sample some produce ourselves. We have two beds that serve a different purpose. One has weather tools to keep track of the weather and the other is a rock garden. Our goal in the future is to have signs to help us learn about each of these resources.
It is our goal that students come away from Greene understanding the scientific process. Part of the experience at Greene is for every fourth and fifth grader to complete a science fair project. Kindergarten through second complete class projects. Third grade does a partial project with me with mini assignments at home. Students’ projects are then displayed and judged. It is always exciting to find out who won and is going on to the county level.
Our school has a few events that make us stand out in science. At our annual state fair, students get an opportunity to travel in small, chaperoned groups to different exhibitors from across the state. Each exhibitor helps us learn about our community and science. A special treat is our dunking booth with teachers in the booth and the STEAM Playground. Kids enjoy the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) Playground because it showcases new items being added to the science lab or Makerspace and everything is hands-on with self-discovery. (Due to Covid, this event is on hold until we return to a regular school year.)
We have fun with our cross grade level science themed weeks. Students look forward to Spooky Science, Shark Week, May the 4th along with a few others.
Our school goes on many field trips at each grade level. It is our belief that building their background knowledge helps to bridge the connections to what they are learning in the classrooms. Most, if not all trips are science-focused and some extend past the regular school day. Fourth and fifth graders go on overnight trips, with fourth going to Camp Cheerio in the mountains and fifth going to the coast. (Due to Covid, fieldtrips are on hold until we return to a normal school year.)
In January 2019, we jumped into Science Olympiad. It was our first team but we did not compete against other schools. We wanted to have a good understanding of the process before competing. We had twenty-seven students participate and had a TON of FUN. In the fall of 2019, we began our Junior team. This team was for anyone who was interested in joining Science Olympiad but had no participated in the past. Then in December of 2019, we began our Varsity Team. This team was made up of members from the previous teams who showed interest, determination, independence and skill in the previous teams. We were ready to compete at Alamance Community College in April 2020, with a team of 18. However, the virus hit. We plan to continue all experiences in the years to come, when things return to normal.