HCDE Says It Is Working To Increase Science Skills In All Schools

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hamilton County Department of Education announces "an urgent commitment to science education" with the expansion of the Science Sparks! standards-based curriculum.

Science Sparks! is a hands-on, engaging science curriculum that was designed by Hamilton County teacher leaders.  "Teachers who take part in the professional learning receive a curriculum and a bin filled with all of the materials to teach the exciting science lessons," officials said. Last spring 40 teachers piloted the program. This year hundreds of HCDE teachers will take part in the Science Sparks! curriculum.

“Looking at the data, we acknowledge science is one area we have struggled in the past,” said HCDE Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson. “We are taking steps to correct that through a combination of efforts, including the expansion of Science Sparks! lessons.”

"In addition, federal funds have allowed the creation of a Lead Teachers for Science district-wide. Lead Teachers are typically tenured teaching professionals who have excellent teaching and leadership skills. They draw upon their teaching experience to serve as expert resources, mentors, or counselors for new and developing teachers," officials said.

“It is content area that has led us to where we are, so we are making the urgently needed changes. The district performed well in literacy so we know we must focus with the same intensity to improve academic success in science and social studies,” Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Johnson and Chief of Opportunity Schools Jill Levine will speak on the importance of science education Tuesday evening at the Tennessee Aquarium’s Beyond the Classroom science education celebration. “This is an amazing opportunity to share the details about how we are working to improve science teaching and learning. I am thrilled the Tennessee Aquarium is hosting this event to highlight such a critical aspect of today’ education,” said Ms. Levine.

Dr. Johnson and Ms. Levine join new Tennessee Aquarium Director of Science Education Dr. Brooke Gorman and Aquarium Trustee Alison Lebovitz as featured speakers at Tuesday evening's event.

Science Sparks! by the numbers:

Elementary Schools:

340 teachers
7,700 students

Secondary Schools:

70 teachers
7,500 students

"Further details will be released once the Science Lead Teacher is selected.  Lead Teachers for Social Science and Fine Arts for the district will also be hired soon," officials said.

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