With Illinois Science Education Week, we’d like to highlight science and STEM education in our schools. Science educators in Butler District 53 work hard every day to help develop students into innovative thinkers and problem solvers. They do this by building on children’s inherent curiosity.
In short, “We make science fun every day,” said Brook Forest Science teacher Andrew Griffith.
The classes emphasize an engaged, hands-on learning experience in which teachers facilitate student-led inquiry, discussion, research and real-world experiments.
Students at Brook Forest have science between 90-180 minutes a week depending on grade level. Classes are taught by dedicated science teachers, Griffith and Shelley Rokos.
At BJH, students have science every day and each grade level focuses on a major and minor theme: 6th – Biology/Human Anatomy and Astronomy; 7th – Biology/Cell Biology/Heredity/Kingdoms of Life and Physics; 8th Grade - Chemistry and Physics.
“Many science programs teach a little bit of each type of science every year,” said Butler Junior High Science teacher Jon Frink. “We focus on one area and teach it in depth; that way students are ready for high school.”
Science education in District 53 also includes extra ways for students to explore science. Students K-5 can participate in Brook Forest’s Science Expo, researching a science topic or conducting an experiment and showcasing it to the public. At the junior high, students can participate in the West Suburban Consortium for Academic Excellence (WSCAE) Brookfield Zoo's Science Fair. There, scientists help judge students’ work.
STEM has been a concerted focus in District 53. This year STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education became a dedicated class at Brook Forest. Classes range from 30 to 60 minutes per week depending on the students’ grade level.
In STEM, students collaborate to build projects and solve problems. For instance, for Science Education Week, 3rd grade students designed catapults and 4th grade students constructed solar powered cars.
At Butler Junior High, students can take STEM as an elective in 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Students choose the projects so they are more invested and excited about their learning. “It lets them explore, I give them gentle encouragement and see if they can figure it out. That’s the persistence and problem solving we want them to learn,” said STEM teacher Kim Krupicka.