John Duffy, the school district's science coordinator, talks about the Virtual Stem University on Wednesday, May 28 at South End School. (Farrah Duffany/ Record-Journal staff).
March 22, 2016 11:49AM
By Farrah Duffany
SOUTHINGTON — Teachers were excited to share lesson plans with their peers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math Wednesday as part of a “virtual university” project scheduled for the start of the 2014-15 school year.
Through a $13,000 grant from the Southington Education Foundation, the school system is creating an online area where teachers at different levels can collaborate on ideas for lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math – disciplines known collectively as STEM.
All of the experiments, lesson plans, student questions and other material for the virtual university were created by teachers for teachers and will be available through the school system’s website www.southingtonschools.org.
“I am so proud and so impressed with the work you have accomplished,” said Jan Galati, the chairwoman of the Southington Education Foundation.
Work on the project started nearly a year ago. Interested teachers were able to submit their ideas to the foundation and school administration for consideration. After ideas were picked, teachers collaborated to design lesson plans, said John Duffy science coordinator for the district.
“We wanted them to fit the curriculum,” he said.
Teachers can search through the lessons by grade level. Each lesson plan indictates how many days of instruction will be required and provides suggested teacher questions and ways to adjust the plans.
Sara Cavanaugh and Jennifer Irazabal, teachers at South End School, created a lesson called “force and motion via dam creation” for fourth and fifth-graders. Students learn about technology as they research different dams. They develop math skills while collecting data and creating graphs. To build models of the dam they must use engineering skills.
The plan outlines all the materials needed for building the models.
“Hopefully teachers will be able to use it with ease,” Cavanaugh said.
Heather Bacchus and Erin Nattrass, teachers at Kelley School, worked on a lesson plan called “marshmallow catapult challenge” geared toward fifth-graders. Students had to create catapults to launch marshmallows through a target.
“They had to measure the distance where the catapult started,” Nattrass said.
There will be nine lesson plans for teachers to choose from for students in first grade through high school. Duffy said she hopes to launch a separate site for the program once more lesson plans are added.
“If it goes where I hope it does, we will have to,” Duffy said.