At a science showcase on Oct. 18, science-minded eighth-graders at Great Valley Middle School demonstrated how they identify star types.
Before a crowd of parents, the students showed off their star lab, where they observed the stars, collecting data like the brightness—or magnitude—of a star to determine which stage it was at in its life cycle.
The students used an iPad program to help them process the data.
"We recorded the brightness that showed up on the LuxMeter app and at the end you had to make connections and conclusions on how you think everything connected between size, temperature, color and brightness," student Maggie McNamara said.
After the demonstrations, parents moved to the Choral Room, where science teachers Derek Brogan, Chad Sindaco and Michael Fuguet explained more about the curriculum. They used metaphors of stepping stones and ropes to explain how the curriculum guides students through the educational terrain.
Brogan explained that the science department has been using a collaborative model for three years, during which multiple educators teach the same subject. In that time, average scores have risen from the mid 70s to a middle B, he said.
"A student who may not understand Mr. Sindaco's explanation of [a subject] can go 15 feet and sit in on Mr. Brogan's class," principal Ed Souders said.
The teachers also explained the benefits of social media for helping students understand the real-world applications of what they study. Sindaco gave the example of using Twitter to relay updates from NASA. The district is set to adopt a social media policy at its Monday night board meeting.
Sindaco also noted that lunar samples would be coming into the school soon—a natural segue from astronomy to geology.
Parents seemed appreciative of the program, with one father garnering applause when he said that the teachers were delivering more than just science, but helping the children develop life skills.