Inspiring Kids in the Classroom

canada2067 | Educators |

How do you help students bridge the gap between concepts and real-world applications? Sometimes, with a bridge.

Tracey O’Toole, an Ontario elementary school teacher, uses a “Bridge for the City of Whitney” challenge to bring science to life in the classroom, and get students more engaged in the learning process.
The Challenge requires students to construct a bridge to help residents cross the lake to work.

The students participate in various tasks and conduct experiments to develop an
understanding of structural design, strength and purpose. They must also construct and 
test structures that support objects and span gaps.

Through this process, the students 
learn to assess what works and what doesn’t, and apply that learning to their design.

They also gain an appreciation for the importance of good workmanship, understand the differences between natural and manmade structures, and get a sense of the design impact on the environment.
Tracey brings other curriculum areas into the mix, to show students how the science-related skills—predicting, inferring, investigating and communicating among them—can be applied to many learning situations.

Most of all, she engenders a curiosity in her students about the world around them—one that may continue long after schooling has ended.

Tracey O’Toole received the 2011 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (AASTE). The award honours extraordinary K-12 science teachers who significantly impact their students through exemplary teaching, and who achieve demonstrated results in student learning.

Source: Spotlight on Science Learning: A Benchmark of Canadian Talent