Special Education science teacher Sherrie Chovanec and science teacher Peter Fischer decided to put their heads together (and their classes) to create an enhanced STEM learning environment at Georgia's Hiram High School. They developed a student-centered learning program that includes hands-on experiences, data collection, and analysis with lots of interactive visualization. The infusion of educational technology with the application of scientific and mathematical skills has been key to the program’s success.
So how do the two classes work together? In their Physical Science labs, the AP Physics students have become peer teachers for the Mild Intellectual Disabilities (MID) students. Using PASCO’s SPARK Science Learning System, the students learn physical science concepts through inquiry-based labs, collecting data with sensors, and interpreting and then analyzing the data.
“The AP Physics students were the peer-teachers of a two-part lab," Chovanec and Fischer explained. "The graphing motion lab gave students the task of dropping beanbags at different speeds and directions. Students were able to ‘see’ using the interactive visualization of the SPARK unit. Prior to the lab, I [Sherrie Chovanec] introduced the MID students to the vocabulary and the math calculations. All students completed a pre-lab assessment in which they were predicting results.”
Chovanec and Fischer were the High School winners of the 2012 Pasco STEM awards. Information about the 2012 awards can be found at www.pasco.com/STEMawards.
“This program is amazing to see in action!" said Dawn Hudson, K-12 Science/Health Coordinator, Paulding County Schools. "AP Physics students actually teach (not just tutor) lessons in Physical science to special needs students in another teacher’s special needs class. Both students benefit as a result, as evidenced by their scores (compared to last year), in addition to comments made by the AP Physics students.”