Nowhere is our interactive approach more visible than in our science program. Chrysalis is a science school. We do what scientists do, not just teach some of the things that scientists have discovered. Scientists are curious and take the initiative to gather evidence to answer their own questions. They engage in authentic inquiry to research, make sense of information, and deepen their understanding about the world around them. Our students will engage in these practices throughout the curriculum.
Progress in science is made through asking meaningful questions, conducting experiments, analyzing information, making connections and drawing conclusions. We feel that this epitomizes the process by which students achieve a greater understanding of the world and expand their sense of what is possible. Therefore, our approach to teaching science is unique and multi-faceted, going beyond lectures and textbooks.
Our science classes are a place where teachers model excitement and curiosity through dynamic classroom instruction. Teachers foster group discussions and urge students to form connections between what they just learned and what they know from personal experience or previous instruction.
Instead of just saying “I don’t know”, we encourage students to ask “how can I find out?”, creating an environment where kids can ask questions and think creatively about the world. This leads to many spontaneous, student-generated investigations. For example, when watching the fish in the classroom aquarium prompted students to question why one fish was chasing the others around, it led to an investigation into animal behavior. The students concluded that this fish was the dominant male of the tank. It may have seemed like a simple question, but it is instances like this that help create such a positive learning environment at Chrysalis. Students ask questions, trusting that their teachers will respond with enthusiasm. This nurtures children’s curiosity and bolsters their confidence by confirming that their observations and ideas are worth exploring.
For each science unit, teachers blend classroom instruction with labs and experiments. Both in the classroom or out in the field, Chrysalis students have access to a variety of scientific equipment and technology that many other children will not use until high school or even college, such as high-powered microscopes or Vernier® equipment that measures and analyzes everything from light and sound to voltage and electromagnetic fields. Students also use chemistry lab equipment, computers, binoculars, species identification field guides, drag nets and other field gear. Work with this equipment begins in the early grades, so that by the time students reach the upper levels, they are confident and familiar with all the tools at their disposal. Students then use this scientific evidence to explain their findings, connecting their hypotheses to sound conclusions.