The new science standards being implemented across the country have caused districts to evaluate how science is taught. The instructional shifts have left many with the same question: How will we get materials to support science classrooms on a limited budget?
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is contributing toward one answer. Recently, Lab-Aids partnered with the East Bay Education Collaborative in Warren, Rhode Island on a grant from the ONR to support high school chemistry teachers. Funds from the grant were used to purchase A Natural Approach to Chemistry for ten schools from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with plans to support an additional twenty schools in the next two years. Participating schools received books, digital resources, chemical packages, and lab equipment for chemistry teachers to implement in their classrooms. This program was selected by the ONR because of features designed to engage students in modern chemistry applications through a hands-on approach and connections to STEM.
In addition to materials, teachers received training before implementing A Natural Approach to Chemistry in their schools. Author Manos Chaniotakis led twenty teachers though labs over two days at the Easy Bay Education Collaborative. Topics covered included atomic structure, stoichiometry, heat and temperature, pH, electrochemistry, spectrophotometry, and distillation. Teachers saw first hand how student friendly materials can lead to more meaningful lab experiences. “Students learn when they are doing.”, noted a teacher from East Providence High.
As teachers return to their schools and begin to use the new materials with their students, they will be reflecting on how the program has supported the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and providing feedback. Supporting science teachers is an ongoing mission of the East Bay Education Collaborative and Lab-Aids, as the conversation around future opportunities is ongoing.