School Board approves new middle school science curriculum

Our middle school students will soon begin an exciting new science curriculum that takes advantage of the district’s voter approved one-to-one iPad program.

In June, the School Board voted unanimously to adopt Amplify Science as Bethel’s new middle school science curriculum.

District leaders don’t take curriculum changes lightly, so before any decisions were made an adoption committee made up of science teachers and administrators met for nearly a year to vet a dozen different programs.

In the end, the committee unanimously recommended Amplify Science, which was designed by UC Berkeley researchers to inspire students to “read, write and argue like scientists to gain a better understanding of the world.” In its recommendation, the committee said Amplify offered strong teacher support, authentic student learning, and real-time tech support.

“It’s not giving students a bunch of facts to memorize,” said Loren Willson, Bethel’s Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning. “It’s giving them problems to solve or phenomenon to explore and engage with.”

While everyone agreed that the Amplify program looked good on paper, teachers wanted it see how it worked in practice. Several teachers, including Chris Clark from Elk Plain School of Choice, brought the program into their classrooms last year to see how it performs with real students.

Clark, whose class used Amplify to investigate how altering protean molecules changed traits in spiders (see video below), gave the curriculum high marks.

“It was fascinating to see the growth and depth of understanding they accumulated in three weeks,” he said. “It was astonishing. It was a fantastic program to run through with them.”

Teachers will get an opportunity to explore the new curriculum at our upcoming Summer Institute. You can learn more about Amplify Science here.

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