7th graders are spectacular science scholars

Skinner Middle School 7th graders were lucky enough to join forces with Urban Advantage Metro Denver (UA Metro Denver),Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Denver Zoo, Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Denver, Aurora, and Adams 14 Public School Districts to help students think and explore like scientists in order to improve science literacy among urban middle school science students.

“Research has shown that a deep understanding of science is grounded in doing science. Not only do students need to understand scientific content, but they must also understand the scientific investigation process,” said Polly Andrews, director of youth and teacher programs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “By conducting their own long-term science investigations, UA Metro Denver gives students a chance to learn science in a manner that is not currently available in these school districts.”

UA Metro Denver provided professional development opportunities to give teachers the skills, knowledge, and confidence to teach STEM content in a rapidly changing world. The program tapped into the traditionally underutilized resources and STEM-related expertise of science-based cultural institutions who share the formal education system’s commitment to improved science thinking.

“In the fall, all of our students were expected to complete a science fair project and present to a judge,” said Ms. Amy Winter, 7th grade science teacher. “In the spring, 7th graders completed and presented another research based project, but students could choose how to explain their findings, through Power Points, Prezis, movies/videos and even clay models.”

Skinner students chose a topic of interest, conducted an independent science investigation project, documented the process and presented their findings to a peer group. Out of 400 applicants, 11 Skinner 7th graders were chosen to present their research at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on May 11th.

“My partner and I researched bear activity, conducting field research at the Denver Zoo five times using our free vouchers for this experiment,” said Elena Barragan, one of the scholars chosen to present their research at the museum. “We concluded that bears are more active in the afternoon because they are tired in the morning due to the enrichment activities they are given to search for their food.”

Modeled after the successful New York City Urban Advantage developed by the American Museum of Natural History and the NYC Department of Education, UA Metro Denver was FREE thanks to a generous grant from the National Science Foundation Discovery K-12 Research Program.

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