In the K-6 science curriculum, St. Joe’s is in its second year of using inquiry-based science kits. The school was introduced to these kits through the local Area Education Agency, which helped St. Joe’s align them with the school’s science curriculum.
The kits are obtained from Grant Wood AEA in Cedar Rapids, which also provides training for teachers. St. Joe’s students love these kits because they are hands-on and provide opportunities for group work, experimentation and reflection.
Kits vary by scientific area: life science, Earth science and physical science. Kindergarten investigates the life cycle of butterflies. With the first-grade kit, titled “Pebbles, Sand and Silt,” students create sand sculptures. Second-graders investigate habitats, weather, solids and liquids. The third-graders build electric circuits and observe plant growth and development.
Fourth-graders analyze Earth materials and observe the structures of life using beetles and crayfish. The fifth-graders’ favorite investigation is trying to solve the mystery in the kit titled “Mysterious Powders.” Fifth grade is currently working with the kit titled “Variables.” The sixth grade investigates Earth’s various landforms. These are just a sample of the kits that the students have enjoyed.
Not only do the students enjoy these kits, but the teachers feel they are beneficial to the students’ overall learning process.