PEF Modernizes 6th Grade Science at Donaghue
Elaine Scafidi is a sixth grade science teacher at the Donaghue School. The lack of a laboratory-type classroom created many frustrating barriers to learning – students found it difficult to build on uneven surfaces, collaborate as a design team, or even look through microscopes, because the slanted desk surfaces would cause specimens to slide off the platform. She applied for a grant from the PEF to upgrade her classroom to a lab environment.
The PEF issued a $25,000 grant so Scafidi could convert and upgrade a traditional classroom to a laboratory environment, along with the procurement of new microscopes and lab equipment. She also procured Discovery TechBooks™, which are online textbooks that conform to current Massachusetts and Next Generation Science Standards for the sixth grade.
The new environment gives students a much better working space to conduct hands-on activities and science labs. The Discovery TechBooks enable students to access new and updated information without the cost or inconvenience of a bulky traditional textbook. They also can conduct research using grade- appropriate resources from any Internet-connected computer, and interact with the books when performing labs. The classroom was upgraded with updated electrical infrastructure, and the closets were converted to house cubbies for each student. Cabinets were added for storage and ease of operation as well as portable cabinets that house the microscopes that can be brought to another room or grade level to use. “The transformation has been amazing,” Scafidi said. “Thanks to our PEF grant, we now have a modern environment with no barriers to learning for our sixth-grade scientists!”