INCRE has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an engaging science discovery curriculum for upper elementary and middle school youth in urban after-school programs. The new after-school curriculum will be based on the award-winning Sunflower Science Curriculum that has been developed by INCRE with prior NSF support.
Themes for exploration and investigation will be defined in collaboration with twelve after-school programs in Eastern Massachusetts that will serve as the pilot sites. Possible themes include Trash, Inventions, Sound, Motors and Machines, Electricity, Rocks, Trees, Animals, Habitats, Energy, Evolution, and Planets.
Each thematic module will incorporate the following elements:
• The thematic curriculum is easy to use: there is no need for extensive staff development.
• The colorful student activity books and multicultural characters and content appeal to the diverse population of urban youth.
• The hands-on science activities utilize no-cost or low-cost materials readily available in the after-school program, home and community.
• The thematic materials are flexible and easily adapt to varying time schedules and age groups.
• Each module takes several weeks to complete, providing in-depth investigation of a particular topic, continuity from one day to the next, and many opportunities for interdisciplinary extension activities. However, each day’s activities also stand alone and fit well into flexible after-school schedules. Youth can choose to participate in individual activities or entire modules.
• The facilitation guides for the science activities provide background information, lesson plans, teaching strategies and extension activities for after-school program staff.
• The topics are well aligned with school curriculum standards.
• The materials promote a fun, non-formal approach to learning that is consistent with the goals of many after-school programs.
• The materials include many opportunities for parental involvement.
• Many activities have an environmental focus that promotes exploration, investigation and understanding of issues in children’s communities.
If you are associated with an after-school program and are interested in the new science materials, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 781-643-2142.
The after-school programs will try out developed activities with the support of trained coaches who will work closely with program staff to implement the activities. Feedback from the pilot testing will help inform finalizing the units for broad dissemination and use by after-school programs around the country.