By Dr. Curtis Varnell
During the Covid-19 pandemic, local science teachers found it very difficult to effectively teach science, a class in which best teaching includes hands-on experimentation along with traditional instruction. Faced with decreased student interest and scores in science, the science specialists in western Arkansas determined to develop curriculum which would bridge the gap and allow students to do science at home with their parents and friends. The result is a new education book entitled, Science at Home and School.
Developed as a collaborative effort by Brian Schuller of the Dequeen/Mena Educational Cooperative and Amber Cobb and Dr. Curtis Varnell of the Guy Fenter Educational coop, the new book contains dozens of lessons that provide easy hands-on experiments that students can do in collaboration with their parents or peers while at home. The materials required are common items found around most homes and are inexpensive to use.
Included within the book are lessons covering virtually all of the science disciplines ranging from astronomy to geology. Each of the lessons are geared to state and national standards and include a materials list, instructions on how to complete the lesson, and a scientific explanation for what is observed. Want to know why Dove soap floats and other brands sink, how plants can grow without soil or the science of making skittles? How about knowing how to make giant bubbles more than two feet in diameter? The answers are in the book!!
As schools return to normal, there is a huge gap between current student scores and those of previous years. This is especially true in science education where many Arkansas students are scoring at levels well below their expected progress. “We know that the key to a deeper understanding of science is to actually do science,” states Brian Schuller. “Hands-on activities directly involve the kids in the learning process and contribute to retention of information.” “It doesn’t matter how hard the teacher works at something or how good a power-point lesson they can deliver if the student doesn’t remember and use what they are taught, added Varnell. “These lessons have been proven effective when used in the classroom or at home.”
Mrs. Cobb states that many of the lessons were placed individually online with Teachers to Teachers but the book is the only source where the lessons are combined in a format easily useable by both parents and teachers.
The book, produced by Blackjack Publishers of Columbia, South Carolina are available through Amazon, local book outlets, and several online sites. The educational cooperatives are making them available to local teachers and schools at cost and many area schools will be using lessons from them this fall.