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COA students help children get hooked on science [Bangor Daily]

The Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor will soon kick off a year-long pilot program aimed at helping elementary school teachers develop hands-on, out-of-classroom lessons to hook young students on science.

The museum hosted a conference Monday to preview the museum’s Science Teacher Academy, a federally funded pilot program for kindergarten through fifth grade teachers.

The pilot program targets elementary school teachers because science often isn’t emphasized for young children, and science-focused professional development opportunities for those teachers are hard to come by, Kim Stewart, director of community engagement, said. Those factors can give students little foundation in the subject when they reach middle and high schools at which science is a priority

“Maine isn’t alone in not offering elementary science professional development. It’s a nationwide problem,” Kate Dickerson, Maine Discovery Museum executive director, said. “What we keep seeing is middle school is too late to get kids excited about science because at some point, they’ve already decided it’s for me or it’s not for me.”

The lack of science-focused professional development is coupled with standardized testing favoring English, literacy and math, Ashley Graves, a College of the Atlantic junior studying elementary education, said. Graves is completing student teaching in a second grade classroom at Tremont Consolidated School in Bass Harbor.

The Science Teacher Academy will combine the museum’s expertise in informal science education with local science professionals to help teachers build confidence and resources to offer new science lessons, Stewart said. Those lessons could include trips to museums, or be hands-on projects that help young children learn the science behind the world around them.

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