Elementary science gets a boost

Mar. 1—The Caldwell County Schools are about to begin implementing a new science curriculum for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, a school official said.

The curriculum was developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center and will be implemented starting at Hudson, Sawmills, Baton and Collettsville Elementary Schools, said Dr. Lesa Widener, the elementary and Title I curriculum director for the school system. The curriculum will be introduced at the rest of the elementary schools in the county over three years.

"We'll have a new science curriculum and implementation of it for third, fourth and fifth grade, which is pretty exciting," she said.

The program is grant-funded, part of a partnership between the Smithsonian Science Education Center and the Center for Research and Educational Policy, Widener said.

Caldwell County is not the only county taking part. The $4.5 million grant, which includes $3.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education, will bring the curriculum to more than 11,250 students in North Carolina and South Carolina in partnership with the North Carolina Science, Math and Technology Center and the South Carolina Coalition for Mathematics and Science, along with an external evaluator from the University of Memphis, according to a press release.

The program sends teachers in selected schools to professional development, beginning March 3, and this spring they will begin implementing the training in their classroom, Widener said.

"Students will become interested in science and see how science impacts the world around them and takes them into opportunities for careers or opportunities for additional schooling, to do something that impacts, because we live in an area that has a lot of opportunity," she said. "This is kind of like one piece of the big puzzle, but it's really exciting for elementary. Because elementary needs our science. I'm so excited about this I can't stand it."

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.