George Lucas Educational Foundation
Schools That Work
Integrated Studies

Sparking Curiosity and Solving Real-World Problems

See how students apply their literacy skills to explore science problems outside classroom walls.
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This is part of our Schools That Work series, which features key practices from Birmingham Covington School.

View a transcript of this video

Student: These hats are so annoying.

Teacher: Put some wood in there now and I think we're ready to go. Can you tell me what you see on that frame?

Student: I think I see nectar right there. I can't see very well.

Student: Ooh, there's honey, there's honey.

Teacher: Because of science literacy, our students are active learners who ask questions. They have a sense of curiosity. They're able to take that curiosity and go do something with it.

Student: Is that larva?

Student: Those are definitely larva.

Mark: At Birmingham Covington, we pride ourselves on interdisciplinary learning.

Student: These are responsible for fruits and vegetables.

Mark: Teachers wanted to collaborate to blend expertise in content, so we developed the science literacy to give teachers time to collaborate with each other and with kids, to identify a problem and go out and figure out how to solve it.

Tammy: Let's talk about the plan for the day.

The students found an article that talked about honey bees possibly going into extinction, and they said, "We should do something with this."

So Mrs. Roberts, she is going to work with all of the research teams. I'm going to come work with the presentation teams.

Pauline: Two teachers spend the afternoon with fifty-four students, totally blending their curriculum.

Tammy: So we'll have our honey, and--

So my expertise would be the science area and my teaching partner, she is in language arts.

Pauline: You guys are the research team. What's our responsibilities as a researcher? Yes.

Student: You need to like, figure out if it's a reliable source or not.

Pauline: The research team provides the knowledge and the content for the other groups to take action upon.

Each group of you has got a different article that you're going to read.

Max: Our article explained North Carolina being sprayed for mosquitoes with the Zika virus, but it killed off two million different honey bees.

Pauline: The first thing that we wanted them to do was pull out what they believed to be the key facts.

Student: The pesticide hasn't been used for a while, so that's pretty important.

Pauline: Then to think about who's the author, what's the source, what are the credentials?

Student: The first paragraph isn't really that important.

Pauline: We want students to be educated consumers of information.

Tammy: You guys want to label it spring, fall, summer, winter.

On the other side of the room, we had our action teams working.

We want them to learn while they're having fun.

They're trying to figure out a fun way to get people involved and bring awareness out to the public. Every student is on both a research team and on an action team.

Max: It helps to spread out the workload, so that we can get more things done, and inform the public easier.

Student: We really do not want the world to look like this.

Tammy: We want them all to be a part of, what could you do? And they have so many ideas. We have a product team working on candle making and honey. And our garden team is making what we call seed balls. They combine compost and clay and seeds that are bee friendly. Just by planting flowers in your yard, you're helping the bees.

Max: We also have a website that people can check out to inform themselves about the honey bees.

Tammy: The whole purpose is to educate, so they also have a brochure.

Gray: We want you and Ethan to be working on new information that we could be put on to our poster board.

Gray: We're researching and then putting it to use in presentations and posters, so we can present it locally.

Student: Because if bees did go extinct, you'd be a little hungry.

Tammy: They know that to be credible, that they have to be as knowledgeable as they can. The kids said, "We have to have hives."

Teacher: Okay, let's go have some fun.

Students: Yeah.

Tammy: We need to actually have our own bees so that we're helping.

Maggie: We are trying to repopulate the bees in Michigan, because they are dying.

Teacher: Shall we take a peek?

Maggie: Yeah, let's do it.

Teacher: Okay.

Student: Okay, someone grab it.

Maggie: We also want to learn more about the bees. It helps me, because I can see it and I believe it.

Student: I got some brood.

Tammy: The nice part about our science literacy class is that the students get to do anything they want. In science, I am bound by the state objectives I have to teach.

I actually see larva.

Science literacy, there's no state mandated curriculum. We didn't have to choose a topic that was fifth or sixth grade curriculum related. That's more powerful, because the students got to make those choices.

Student: We have some larvae and eggs.

Tammy: Our objective is that students would be able to take the skills that they've learned in our class and apply it to any problem.

Pauline: Science literacy is teaching our students to be curious about the world around them. With the problems they identify, they articulate how they want the community to help. So even as students, they are learning how to become effective agents of change. So it's bigger than just the science content. It's about helping to develop the citizens that we really hope our children become.

Student: Whoa, this one's heavy. We got a lot.

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Comments (14) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Margarita Muscente's picture

Real life learning opportunities are key to understanding. Working collaboratively makes it eve more appealing. Students are social and these learning ops fill both needs.

Margarita Muscente's picture

Real life learning opportunities are vital to understanding concepts. Collaborating makes it even more appealing.

Sadia sajid's picture

Iv read the posts above everyone has a different perspective to it. To me the basic notion that Man is a social animal holds weight age. Students at all levels learn in different ways experimenting, hands on etc but real interest in all disciplines connected interconnected lodges through group work. The quest for more develops in group environment and also the feel of this that anything is easy.

Melanie Link Taylor's picture
Melanie Link Taylor
Educator, Blogger, Southern California

Activities in the real, three dimensional world brings sensory input to involve whole learning, triggers students curiosity as to the outcome of the project, and satisfies the need for social interaction. Sounds perfect, huh? And fun.

Play2Health's picture
Educator and Parent

Hands on learning is critical and adds to the learning experience. The ability to think abstractly, to question why something happens, e.g. cause and effect are critical aspects of development. In today's technology driven world, these hands on opportunities are even more crucial for a child's development.

Handyman Dream's picture

It's really amazing that young minds are using their time to solve real-life problems and helping to make a better world.

MsChris's picture

Students had a voice in what topic was researched instead of being school mandated. The collaboration and hands on learning experience is amazing. The students really want to make a difference and it shows.

lynette's picture

When students are involved in a problem-solving experience and then talk about their learning they show that they have a deeper understanding than when they just repeat the information given to them from a worksheet or website etc...

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