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Young Einsteins
A space dedicated solely to science opens new doors to discovery
Extracting DNA from strawberries in the Elementary School’s new science space
Fun is not a word I would normally associate with science, but in talking with a number of Grade 5 students, that was the adjective that came up again and
again in relation to the Elementary School’s new science area: “Science is fun,”“We can do fun activities in the new room,” or “It’s fun to move to another room.”
In the Elementary School, science is part of the Units of Inquiry. Last year, science was taught solely in the classroom, but this year teachers are also using a dedicated science space.
Grade 5 teacher, David French, explained that teachers now have a localized room where all science resources can be stored and shared. Additionally, more activities can be completed by one or more classes together. These include unit topics like genetics, energy, the human body, space, and the changing earth.
Unlike a regular classroom, experiments and investigations in the new science space can be left out over a period of days. This  exibility recently allowed Grade 2 students (dressed in lab coats that looked suspiciously like their dad’s work shirts) to sprawl materials over the  oor, designing and building arcade games for a week, as part of their unit on energy. It also gave Grade 5 students a week to solve a “crime” using, amongst other things, DNA testing.
In addition to the physical change in space, Mr. French has observed a di erence in the students, too. On entering the
room, their expectations and behavior have changed. There is an increased maturity when moving around and a greater responsibility for the resources. Grade 5 students echoed his comments, and said that they thought it was useful for kids to be able to do experiments and leave their work until another time. They were also keen to point out that it was spacious, cool and fun! Did I mention that word already? One student added, “We’re lucky to have a science room as some schools don’t have one.”
Once current Grade 5 students move to Grade 6, they will be attending a variety of subject lessons in specialized classrooms. By doing likewise in the Elementary School, it is hoped that this will also ease the students’ transition to the Upper School.
Elementary School Principal, Peter Baker, is keen to further develop the area with teachers, and there are already plans to change the  ooring and order additional resources that will aid scienti c learning. In doing so, the focus on science will increase further, and as Mr. French said, “This shows the school’s drive to establish dedicated learning spaces that bene t both teaching and learning.” So, when a Nobel Prize for Science goes to an FIS alumni, maybe we’ll now be able to pinpoint where all the fun started – with Einsteins in the Elementary School.
Tony Winch FIS Parent
4 FIS World February 2017

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