Hands On, Minds On
In the fall of 2012, Portsmouth Catholic Regional School located in Portsmouth, Virginia began using the Nancy Larson Science program in first through third grades. Almost immediately the teachers realized the students’ knowledge base was growing, and students were engaged in higher levels of critical thinking. Principal Mary Ellen Paul describes the program as “hands on, minds on—taking the students to the next level of learning.” She says, “With the Nancy Larson Science program, the students learn skills that they apply across all the subject areas we teach so that they are always building higher levels of thinking.”
“I love the way Nancy Larson builds additional subjects into her science program. I saw light bulbs going off in my students’ heads; they were getting it. It was just a wonderful link,” said third grade teacher Peggy Campbell when describing her students’ learning science and math at the same time. “The way we did a line graph to track how different water temperatures were changing for a particular lesson—it was a math and science lesson packaged into one.” Second grade teacher Kathy Noblin added, “The program does more than teach them science—it’s making connections, critical thinking, reading and so much more.”
“The program does more than teach them science—it’s making connections, critical thinking, reading and so much more.” – Kathy Noblin, Second Grade Teacher
Built-in reviews for building knowledge
The Nancy Larson Science program makes sure students are actually learning the information so when they move on, the information from previous lessons will not be forgotten. First grade teacher Beverly Taylor explains, “It’s not just a one time activity. We build upon lessons multiple ways through exposure to terms and concepts over and over again throughout the unit. I think that really helps.” And the teachers are seeing results! “These are first graders that can tell you terms like ‘mandible’ and ‘femur’—they know exactly what they are and can describe them weeks after the original lesson. They are not just memorizing facts; they know it, they remember it, and they can apply it down the road.”
Science is better than PE
Throughout the school year, second grade students at the Portsmouth Catholic Regional School create an “All About Me Book.” On one page of the book they are asked, “What is your favorite subject?” In the past the second grade teacher grew accustomed to seeing PE, art, or music listed as the students’ favorite subject. After using the Nancy Larson Science program, the teacher was delighted to see a substantial increase in the number of students describing science as their favorite subject.