Teachers on and around reservations in Montana are singing the praises of a program implemented to beef up and make more interesting elementary science classes.
The Big Sky Science Partnership partners schools, Tribal communities and universities to help bring color and substance to science. As Ann Cantrell of the MSU news service reports, teachers involved receive tools from the program. The increased attention to science has inspired some teachers to get very creative.
Teacher Dora Hugs of Pryor invited Crow elders into her classroom to tell science-related stories about stars.
The program is a collaboration of Montana State University, the University of Montana and Salish-Kootenai College, the lead collaborator. It trains science teachers on or near reservations in the state and is funded by a five-year, $4.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In addition to the original NSF grant, which was awarded in the fall of 2006, the program received a total of $900,000 in supplementary funding from the NSF Math and Science Partnership in 2008 and 2009.
“The Big Sky Science Partnership is doing great things,” said Elisabeth Swanson, director of the project at MSU. “It works with teachers to help them feel more comfortable teaching physical sciences. It also helps teachers connect traditional science knowledge with topics that are culturally relevant, and to use inquiry-based teaching methods.” Inquiry-based teaching invites students to explore subjects by posing, investigating and answering questions, putting students’ questions at the center of the curriculum.