There’s a big change coming for middle school students in Racine, Wisconsin. This September, the school district’s 4,000 sixth, seventh, and eight graders will study science through a new curriculum featuring virtual labs, animated simulations, and interactive online activities designed to lead them on a journey of exploration and discovery.
Racine’s students will probe the world of science through the digital pathway, hands-on labs, and electronic games of Pearson's Interactive Science program, which also allows middle school students to read, write, draw, graph and self-assess in their texts.
“Interactive Science's unique approach to science instruction, including texts our students can write in and keep at the end of the year, the integration of the Understanding by Design instructional model that focuses on the development and deepening of student understanding, and the high-utility technology applications made the program very appealing," said Ron Viola, Racine Unified's Secondary Science Coordinator.
Aligned to the National Science Teachers Association’s standards, the curriculum aims to teach students to make connections between their science learning and the real world. Animated, virtual experiments offer digital investigations, such as exploring the relationship between wave length and color with virtual light filters online, while “Untamed Science” videos present the core concepts of real-life science expeditions in a high-energy, adventurous style.
The program also helps teachers personalize learning for their students. Racine’s teachers can manage their classes, assign homework, track student progress, customize lesson plans, and further individualize learning with tools like MyReadingWeb, which offers content matched to a student’s reading level.
Visual cues throughout the text help struggling readers and English language learners to better understand core science concepts, and integrated print and digital formative self-assessments keep students on track throughout the school year. When students need extra support, they can access MyScienceCoach, an online interactive tool that offers additional activities, links to external websites that support key science topics and educational content passages.
"We want our students to connect their science skills and knowledge to their daily lives with this program,” said Viola. “And, we're excited to be integrating technology into all aspects of science learning and teaching."