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June 21, 2011 > Science is "alive and well" in Newark

Science is "alive and well" in Newark

Submitted By Franz Bruckner
Photos By Mondana Tang

Studies have shown that American children continue to fall behind in the sciences when compared with their European and Asian counterparts. The worsening budget situation in California is making the problem even more severe. Just 10 years ago, every school in Newark conducted an annual Science Fair, and there was a citywide Science Fair as well. However due to budget issues, these programs disappeared several years ago, and teachers have focused on textbooks. In addition, instead of one science teacher per school, each science teacher is assigned to two or three schools.

This change has prompted innovative solutions in the areas of Math and Science. At Lincoln School, three years ago, the parent community began offering a Science Fair program to all students (K-6). The program has been very successful and in each of the past three years, students from every grade have participated in the Lincoln Science Fair. "It has really brought the idea of fun back into Science," noted Franz Bruckner. Students have been able to investigate a project of their choosing, applying the scientific method. This past year, Lincoln's science teacher has focused on this "hands-on" philosophy.

Mondana Tang has been the Science teacher at Schilling Elementary School for the past six years, and has become the science teacher at Lincoln elementary as well. Tang requires all 6th graders to complete a Science Fair project. Completion of the projects is followed by a school-wide Science Fair and competition between the two schools. Awards are presented in various categories including Life Science, Physical Science and Earth Science. Science Fairs provide students with valuable lessons in both science and presentation skills as the students speak about their projects before a judging panel. Ms. Tang notes, "The students are always nervous to face the judges at first, but come out of the fair with such a feeling of accomplishment and confidence."

Science is alive and well in Newark. Thanks to a fantastic school community, innovative principals, an awesome Science teacher, a great parent community, and an eager student body, two schools in Newark are keeping Science alive for their student body. Hopefully other schools in Newark will follow suit, so Newark can once again host a true citywide competition between all Newark Elementary schools.

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