Pittsfield School Boasts New Math & Science InitiativesBy Joe Durwin
05:09PM / Thursday, October 25, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new interactive school calendar and a visit from NASA are among some of the initiatives being introduced at Williams Elementary School as supplemental resources to its regular math and science curriculum.
Principal Lisa Buchinski extolled the virtues of "Every Day Counts," a new interactive calendar program introduced at the school this year.
"This is a program that is an additional resource that we use," Buchinski told the School Committee on Wednesday. "An addition to the everyday math skills that will go into them."
The project attempts to enhance simple arithmetic skills such as counting and addition by tying them concretely to everyday terms such as dates and times. Students use the interactive bulletin board in various ways, such as to keep count of the days of the month, using addition to roll those over into counting the days of the school year.
"They're taking all of these components, and putting their everyday reality to it," Buchinski told the committee. "What's wonderful about this is the amount of discussion and discourse that the students do with some of it."
The program also includes math journals that the students write in as they complete parts of the board.
"We also need to improve the kind of writing that they're doing for mathematics and science," Buchinski said, noting that 30-40 percent of the score in MCAS testing for mathematics in Grades 3-5 is based on written answers to questions.
Buchinski said the initiative had been very well received by staff, who she said have already seen early signs of its learning benefit for students.
The Williams principal said that a part of the program had been piloted last year at Stearns Elementary School, and the decision to implement such a program at Williams was based in part on the positive results reported there.
Later in the school year, a mobile science educational vehicle will visit the school for a day for tours by all fourth- and fifth-graders. Buchinski said the opportunity came out of a grant written by a parent a considerable time ago.
The mobile educational center is a project of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center. Class by class, students in those two grades will get to tour a truck filled with such things as model spacesuit, satellite information collector demonstrator, space food, and other space artifacts as well as mixture of models including the space station, space transportation system, satellites, airplanes, and the NASA family of rockets.
"It's been three years in the making, but they are coming," said Buchinski, "It's going to be a wonderful experience."