City working to get derailed science curriculum back on track
In a story last week, we wrote about the city's beginning effort to revive science education in city schools. With the district increasing its focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, more than $500,000 was spent to have a four-week, project-based learning summer program in 22 elementary schools this year. The programs will continue into the school year, and expand to 10 more schools.
The results so far have been impressive. On my visit to Sarah M. Roach Elementary last week, young elementary students explained the importance of the hermit crab habitats they built , and how they were able to troubleshoot uncooperative generators that powered the wind turbines they had designed. You can read more about the science program and students' projects here.
City school officials said the goal is to have more city students getting their hands dirty and having their curiosity piqued at an earlier age. The district also needs to ensure that the subject is being taught consistently throughout students' educational careers, as science has taken a back seat to the math and reading skills that are tested on state assessments.
According to results released by the state education department earlier this month, the city's fifth-grade science scores on the Maryland School Assessments dropped 3 percentage points to 36 percent passing, while eighth-graders' results rose 3 percentage points to 37.6 percent. The city scores are 30 points below the state average, though the state has historically struggled with science education.
The new STEM programs will start in elementary schools and, if funding levels allow, will spread to every school in the city.