When Wellington Elementary School teacher Gina Alday had the opportunity to transition from teaching fourth grade to working in the Specials Rotation as the Science Discovery teacher, she was ecstatic. But on the heels of the excitement came a moment of panic. “How will I ever get all the supplies I need to teach science to six different grade levels in a way that is fun and exciting and makes an academic impact?” Alday wondered.
And then her principal suggested applying for a grant from LEF. “You can’t teach Science Discovery without materials,” Wellington Principal Robin Macke said. “The grant from LEF has a direct correlation to the quality of curriculum and instruction.”
Alday acted on the suggestion, requesting funds for the non-consumable supplies necessary to build her K-5 Science Discovery curriculum.
The purpose of Science Discovery is to match interactive, investigative activities with the curriculum each grade is covering in their classrooms. Those activities increase student engagement and promote greater understanding of the concepts presented in the classroom.
“Hands-on investigations are key to correcting student misconceptions about Science,” Alday wrote in her grant proposal. “Science investigations generate a powerful understanding of the natural world because the students can see it, touch it, hear it, and learn key concepts.”
LEF’s Grant Review Committee saw potential and promise in Alday’s proposal and awarded her the Gwendolyn Norris Memorial Grant as well as additional funds from the LISD Employee Giving campaign.
Alday used her grant funds strategically. She worked weeks in advance with teachers in each grade level to match her lesson plans with the science units they were covering and then designed exciting lessons to energize students and create a love of science. Each planning period ended with Alday making a list of tools to purchase so she could demonstrate the key concepts in each unit.
“The supplies LEF funded allow me to get ideas across to students,” Alday explained. “I can talk science concepts all day long, but if they don’t get to build it or make it or see it, the concept is lost.”
Her efforts paid off as student enthusiasm for science exploded. “It’s really interesting,” fifth grade student Katrina Morris said. “I didn’t know I liked science before her class.”
Students are appreciative of the funding LEF provided. “Science Discovery is really helpful because in here we do so many actual experiments and hands-on activities,” fifth grade student Ashna Mulastanam said. “It’s always another look at things we are still doing in class. I didn’t know LEF paid for it, but I am glad they did.”