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Unpacking science wonders with iSprowt class packs

Published April 10, 2024
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Stephanie Higgs, Tennessee gifted educator, sees her fourth graders for only 30 minutes a few times a week – a time-crunch struggle many teachers can sympathize with. Higgs uses that limited time to build upon students’ abilities and interests, including science and technology, but keeping her students engaged can get challenging when it seems like they’ve already interacted with all the technology and DIY science out there.

When Higgs came across the iSprowt science packs in Pitsco’s catalog of offerings, she beelined to her student with an affinity for the sciences and let her choose which pack seemed best for the whole class. Talk about student choice and voice! The student looked over the options – with topics from fossils to natural disasters to the universe, she couldn’t go wrong – and ultimately chose Chemistry and Matter.

CLASSROOM RELEVANCE

iSprowt’s phenomena-based elementary kits were written to bring real-world science to life. Creator Juliana Sherwood specifically designed the activities, authored their workbooks, and chose hands-on materials all in the name of her own children and their classmates who struggled to find the connection between science class and the world around them. In fact, each kit was created with NGSS requirements and educator needs as its guiding lights, ensuring full classroom utility.

THE EDUCATOR EXPERIENCE

When the Chemistry and Matter pack arrived in Higgs’s classroom this past winter, she quickly reviewed the teacher sheet and a student workbook, instantly identifying the first activity she wanted to do with her students: indoor snow, as they’d had a distinct lack of snow over the holiday break. All she needed to do was unpack the kits and locate a water source. When class started, her fourth graders paired up and got to work immediately, cracking open the workbooks and following the story and directions on their own.

“I was drawn to the activities because there’s nothing like it on Pinterest!” Higgs said. “But really, it was a novel and niche way to teach universal themes that I had wanted to touch on this semester anyway. I mean, engineering an indoor snowman to teach about change AND design? I would have never thought of that.”

Higgs also found that it was easy to break the workbooks into segments by activity – especially handy for her short class periods. “I was impressed that we could do an activity one day, and then come back to iSprowt a week later for the kids to remember where they left off. They just love the hands on, and I love the flexibility!”

Jennifer Stormer, an Ohio elementary STEM/math teacher, felt the same about her own pack. “I used the Renewable Energy kits in my third- and fourth-grade classes as a supplement to my energy curriculum. They aligned perfectly with it! The ease of using them and the engaging student activities were the best part of it all. Everything was in the kits, and the books were very well written with explanations as to how to implement the materials. I honestly only spent a couple of minutes overviewing each lesson prior to implementing them.”

Both teachers agreed that while they used iSprowt as a supplement or extension to the students’ core science content, the kits could be used stand-alone for a mini unit or an after-school club.

“I still have a few activities for us to go through,” Higgs said, “but I’m already wanting another pack topic! The students loved it that much. It’s so awesome to see them have fun while learning.”

Shop iSprowt classroom packs at Pitsco.com/Shop/iSprowt.

“A female student came in to my eighth-grade class complaining about not feeling well. I asked her why she just didn’t stay home. The answer I received almost made me cry and I’ve heard it over and over (with Pitsco labs). My student told me, ‘I wanted to come to this class today – I really like it.’ I’ve shared this story with all my administrators. If this program keeps kids in school, I’m all about it!”

– Jacqueline Thompson, STEM lab teacher, Bertie Middle School, Bertie County, North Carolina

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