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Science & Technology
The Science and Technology/Engineering program in the Haverhill Public Schools offers students an opportunity to explore and understand the fundamental concepts of the physical world. The Massachusetts Science Curriculum Framework provides the basis of the scope and sequence of the topics and skills students will study throughout their K-12 education.
Supervisor of Science and Technology
Instruction and Opportunities:
Science is the exploration of our world. For our children, this begins when they are infants. In the elementary program, students continue this exploration as they learn about the earth, weather, living things, matter, motion, and energy. As students progress through the grades, the depth and sophistication of their studies increase. They learn to observe the world around them, make predictions, and test out these predictions. The elementary program includes speaking, reading, and writing about science.
In middle school, students revisit these topics at levels that reflect their greater capacity to analyze and make inferences from the information they have. Their investigations become more rigorous as they control variables and learn to apply mathematical analysis to their results. The science literacy component of their studies develops as students read more sophisticated science articles, write formal reports, and discuss the implications of their studies.
There are five areas of study in the science and technology/engineering program at Haverhill High School: life science, earth science, chemistry, physics/engineering, and technology. The High School has expanded and strengthened its offerings for students in each of these academic areas. New courses have been added, including Cellular Biology and Genetics, Zoology, and Astronomy. In addition, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Advanced Placement Environmental Science is currently in the planning stage.
Haverhill High School students can enter the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy in their freshman year. This academy supports students in their pursuit of science and technology/engineering, and it provides them with the foundation that will ensure their success in STEM-related studies and careers. Haverhill juniors and seniors have the opportunity to take dual-enrollment courses through the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Currently, Introduction to Engineering I & II and College Writing are offered.
Science MCAS Exams
Students take Science MCAS Exams in Grades 5 and 8. They also must pass one course-specific Science MCAS Exam at the high school.
Both the 5th and 8th grade exams test material covered in multiple years. The content for 5th grade is taught in grades 3-5, and the content for 8th grade is taught in grades 6-8. This presents challenges for our elementary and middle school students since they need to remember three years of material for each exam. Below are some suggestions about how you can support your child’s science education and help them prepare for the MCAS Exams.
In order for students to graduate from high school, they must pass a High School Science MCAS Exam. The exam is content-specific. In Haverhill, most high school students take the Biology MCAS Exam in either 9th or 10th grade, depending on the Biology course(s) they take. Once students pass the exam, they do not need to take any further Science MCAS Exams.
How Can Parents Help Students Succeed in Science?
We, as humans, seem to be wired to explore our world. We watch our children crawl around looking and touching (and tasting) things in their world. Much of their play involves exploring their world. This innate curiosity is at the heart of science. The more we encourage our children’s curiosity about their world, the more engaged and proficient they will be in science. And, one of the best ways we can encourage our children is to explore the world with them.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Discuss current science topics with your children. For instance, a hurricane, exploration of Mars, recycling, and solar power.
- If you don’t remember much of the science you studied, don’t worry! It is a great opportunity for you and your child.
- You can have them teach you, if they know. As they become the teacher, their knowledge is reinforced.
- If neither of you know, the two of you can learn together. Check out books, magazines, or the Internet for great resources.
- Watch science-related TV shows, such as Nova and The Weather Channel shows. Then, discuss them together.
- Explore science websites together. There are plenty of amazing sites for children of any age.
- Engage your child in critical thinking by asking them questions that encourage them to think, apply, analyze, and evaluate situations (ex. What do you think would happen if…? Why do you think…? How does this compare to…?). This can be done at any age.
- Go to museums together, such as the Museum of Science and the Boston Aquarium. Or, just for a quick stop, drop in at your local pet store and check out the fish.
- Go to the library and get some science books. Read them together and discuss them.
- Visit places such as the airport to watch the planes take off and land. Then, go home and research airplane flight on the Internet, or in the library if you prefer.
- Go on nature walks and observe the plants, animals, water, wind, etc. Talk about what you see and why it might look like it does. If you don’t know, check it out on the Internet. This will help your child to become a good observer of the details around them.
- Build things together. This does not need to be expensive. You can make bridges out of popsicle sticks or even twigs; you can make chairs out of cardboard that can support 150 pounds or more.
Another way you can support your child to be successful in science is to make sure they get to school every day ready to learn. Eating properly, getting enough rest, and completing homework all help children to feel ready to face their day. If your child is absent, make sure they get any missed work.
Ask your child about what they did in school. Go beyond the “How was your day? – Fine” discussion. Also, ask to see their homework. Have them explain to you what they did and why. This will both let you know they have done their work and reinforce their knowledge as they explain it to you.
Be in contact with your child’s science teacher. Find out how your child is doing in class. Also, find out what topics your child will be learning so you can explore those topics together.
New Science Standards
New Science Framework and Standards are being developed. The national versions of these are called Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the final version was released earlier this year.You can read more about the national standards at http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards.
The state is currently engaged in the process of determining the extent to which the NGSS reflect Massachusetts’ desired goals and the best path to getting our students ready for college and careers. We hope to see the first draft of the state Framework in the fall of 2013.
Middle School Science Fairs a Success!
This year the four Haverhill middle schools hosted science fairs. All 7th and 8th grade students throughout the district worked on projects in their science classes. The projects included:
- Determining a topic they wanted to investigate
- Completing background research on their topic
- Writing a report summarizing their background research
- Developing an objective for their project
- Creating a procedure to complete their project
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Drawing conclusions based on their data
- Writing a final report and developing a presentation that documented all steps in their project
These projects were exhibited in each school during the Haverhill Middle School Science Fairs. The students did a great job on their projects and presentations! The feedback we received from many students, parents and teachers was that students were enthusiastic and proud of their work and learned a lot about science and the scientific method. We look forward to seeing what projects students create next year!