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Gearing up for science
New teaching technology mixes tools, software
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County educators are getting schooled on all sorts of new teaching tools and toys.

The batch of technology teachers tried out Friday is part of a statewide initiative designed to liven-up science in kindergarten through 12th grade.

As early as kindergarten, students are doing labs and watching computer animated glossaries of concepts such as the cycle of a cocoon.

Nancy Pappas, a first-year teacher at Cumming Elementary, said her favorite part of it all was “playing” with the materials.

She and a group of first-grade teachers experimented with “powdered snow” and “Mars sand,” or sand that’s been waterproofed.

The Mars sand floated atop water poured in a clear cup, and teachers could stick their fingers into the concoction without getting them wet.

New tools also include software that gives students the power to see what drastic changes to the environment might have on an animal, and in turn, the rest of the food chain.

“I think (parents) would be surprised at how well they work with online resources,” said Kelly Price, a teaching and learning specialist.

“I think they’d also be surprised at the level of reasoning our young students are capable of,” she said, adding that just “learning terms” won’t cut the mustard in science.

“It’s not just about a book. It’s about equipment. It’s about online learning. It’s about meeting them where they’re at.”

Teachers will be working with old-school materials, as well: Liquid thermometers; empty metal cans; plant kits; live hermit crabs, fish, caterpillars and more.

Roberta Hanlon, a Cumming Elementary School teacher, liked the tools because she said teachers often spend their $100 state grants for classroom materials.
“With this new program,” she said, “they’re giving us all the equipment that we need.”