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 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 fieldtrips, 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 squid, while fourth dissects frogs and fifth graders dissect the dogfish shark. Our K-2 raise ladybugs, butterflies, mealworms and hatch chicks.
Thanks to the PTA and 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. Our fifth grade science teacher uses this to teach the kids about ecosystems and plant/animal interdependence. I have a fifth grade environmentalist group that uses that space to hunt for salamanders, set leaf traps and work on trail maintenance. Some teachers use this space to hunt for plants, animal clues or use it as a special treat.
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.
Last year, we utilized our garden to grow food for the Greensboro Urban Ministry. We were able to donate a pallet of greens, lettuce and turnips. As well as bags of carrots and tomatoes. We started a third grade garden club that works in the space a few times a month.
It is our goal that students come away from Greene understanding the scientific process. Part of the experience at Greene is for every third, fourth and fifth grader to complete a science fair project. Kindergarten through second complete class projects. 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.
In 2017-2018, we started doing theme weeks. During the month of October, all grade levels had spooky science in the lab and at winter break, our theme was slime. This year, we are expanding our theme weeks. All the specialist teachers will be participating and there will be opportunities for the teachers to join in with their homerooms. We will have Weather Week in November, Space Week in January and Earth Week in April.
Our school goes on many fieldtrips 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.
Last year was the first year General Greene participated in the Earth Day celebration for Greensboro. We had a booth that showed off our fifth grade’s recycled vehicles and gave the visiting kids a chance to make their own vehicles. We plan on continuing this partnership with the Kathleen Clay library.
Plans for this year.
Since I, Ms. Baldwin, have stepped into this position, I have developed a three and five year plan. I am dreaming big and hope to add more fun each year. This year’s goals are
- Installing a large interactive weather garden.
- Starting a Science Olympiad Team.
- Updating and improving the fossil pit, garden and nature trail.
- Continuing our activities, research and lessons with NASA.
- Starting partnerships with community science businesses.
- Participating in Live Expeditions with scientist out in the field.
- Working with Aces students to start an Energy Wise team.
- Expanding the garden and environmentalist club activities.
- Sending at least 2 staff members to the regional science conference in November.
- Providing teachers with STEM Snacks where they learn how to utilize the resources in our school.
- Creating a sustainable three year plan for our garden.
- Bringing in or skyping with science experts during units of study or theme weeks.