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Waitsburg has science


August 20, 2020

After reading the article in last week’s Times about science at Waitsburg Elementary, a number of people asked me, “Doesn’t Waitsburg teach science in the elementary school?”

The short answer, yes.

But I thought a little history might be in order.

Over the last 40 years, that curriculum has changed, and to the good: good for the teachers, good for the students and good for science, even Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

What was once thought to be best practice from a textbook, science became what was considered hands-on. The Waitsburg School District, under the creative eye of Superintendent Ed Larsen became a partner in the Blue Mountain Small Schools Consortium, with the motto “Rural is Gourmet.”

One of the programs endorsed was science. Collaborating with Whitman College, science guru Peggy Willcuts and the Pacific Science Center, Waitsburg teachers (with the support of the administration) began the journey to science in the elementary classrooms as we now know it. What grew from teacher made hands-on kits, evolved to inquiry-based kits that are specifically designed for grade levels (teachers are trained on their classroom kits) covering areas such as physical, earth and life sciences. Students are encouraged to be inquisitive, to have a plan (scientific method), and to learn from their attempts, touching also on areas included in STEM.

Throughout the years, students’ learning have been enriched by numerous other science activities: including construction, rockets, egg drops, science fairs, outside science resources, field trips, robots, computer science, etc. Even the Walla Walla County Extension Office has materials available.

And the staff continues to upgrade their knowledge.

It is my understanding that an online elementary age-appropriate science program, standard-based and compatible with the ‘usual’ science curriculum (kits), will be incorporated this year to better fit the current on-line school year.

So back to the question, “Elementary science?” “Yes.”

Rest assured. A sound science program at Waitsburg Elementary continues.

Pam Conover

Retired Teacher (Encouraging Arts and Science)


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