During his first year in high school, my son came home one day and told me, “Seabury ruined science for me, Mom.” I was incredulous – Seabury has an awesome science program! I asked him what he meant and he replied, “At Seabury, we actually DID science – developing our own questions, putting together our own investigations, drawing our own conclusions. Now, all we do is read about science and do experiments that are already set up for us. I liked actually DOING science much better.”
The process of inquiry, or scientific method as you may have called it when you were in school, is the backbone of science in the real world, as well as in Seabury’s science program. In all classes, from prekindergarten where students have studied everything from plants to planets, to middle school where they have studied chemistry and microbiology, students at Seabury don’t just learn about science. They DO science. They research background information. They learn to ask research questions. They develop hypotheses. They experiment and control variables. They make careful observations and control variables. They draw conclusions and share them with others.
The process of inquiry is not limited to science at Seabury. Learning how to ask good questions, gather data and develop conclusions informs the way students approach all kinds of learning. In a world that is changing quickly, we believe that these skills are not only critical for developing students’ skills in the sciences, but are key in all areas. In our rapidly changing world, being able to ask good questions, evaluate information, and form reasoned and well supported conclusions are the skills needed in the 21st century where students today will have jobs that have not even been conceived of yet.
You can get a feel for the vital part science plays in real world of our classrooms by checking out our classroom blogs over the past year. (Links at the bottom of www.seabury.org) You'll read about pre-k students exploring surface tension, Newton's third law and what happens as rain moves through clouds. You'll find how our kindergarteners initiated their own study of rocks and spent several weeks weighing, measuring and recording observations about their own specimens. You can read and see pictures documenting the in-depth learning our first and second-graders have done in their study of the human body, including making their own stethoscopes and dissecting a real cow eyeball. You can see the simple machines and incredible Rube Goldberg machine built by our third through fifth graders during their study of physics.
Seabury’s recent science fair was a great demonstration of our students’ love of science – and of their love of investigating the world around them. It was a celebration of the power of inquiry, and of giving students space to explore. As we look at Seabury’s graduates and the things they are doing now that they are “beyond Seabury,” we see the spirit of inquiry – of, “I wonder what would happen if…” in so many of the things they are doing. What a joy it is to see where our kids’ questions lead them!
- Sandi Wollum