Curriculum Matters: December 7, 2014


Faculty About Town: Liz Allen

I have been visiting the Sciencenter for more than 15 years as a mother and as a teacher bringing groups through on fieldtrips.  The Sciencenter’s mission statement is “to inspire excitement for science through interactive exhibits and programs that engage, educate, and empower”.  In my experience they succeed time and time again, from the thought provoking, inquiry-based activities to the specialized educational programs.  Over the years children from the EAC Primary Program have learned about states of matter; the properties of magnetism, air and water; and the importance of the ocean on planet earth, just to name a few.

So, I was honored when asked to be on the Advisory Board forScience from the Start, a program that the Sciencenter is launching over the next two years. They were awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for their plan to use a community-based approach to work with all preschoolers who are attending either a Tompkins County Head Start program or the Downtown Ithaca Children’s Center (DICC).  The Sciencenter’s goal is to enhance preschool exposure to inquiry-based science activities and concepts with developmentally- and age-appropriate science curricula.

The Advisory Board consists of a representative from Head Start, Franziska Racker Center, Child Development Council, Strong Museum of Play, Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami, and EACMSI.  In addition to an open dialogue of sharing and brainstorming, the Sciencenter staff was specifically asking me how I tailor content and activities for varying ages and abilities.  They will be observing my classroom and I will be observing some of the workshops and other preschools.

The planning process will be completed over the next few months and the first science workshops will be in March and April 2015.  The teachers from Head Start and DICC will receive hands-on training on a specific science unit along with the parents and caregivers. The plan is to empower people: not just give them the tools but more to give them the experience and the confidence to discover new things.  A new unit will be presented each month or six weeks.

With the help of outside consultants,the Sciencenter will continually evaluate and improve the Science from the Start program during the two-year grant period.  Ideally when this phase is over the Sciencenter will continue and expand this program.

Science from the Start Project Vision – Parents, caregivers and educators are science literate and engaged in science education for their children from an early age, leading to children who are science-ready by kindergarten, with problem-solving and reasoning skills, creativity and curiosity necessary for a lifelong love of learning.