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May 26 2022

Science: Skills for Students to Shape the World

Grady Singleton

"We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology," famous astronomer and author, Carl Sagan, once wrote. The innovation economy of the 21st Century is one in which everyone must have command of critical scientific skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and creative innovation. As the quote mentions, such skills are not always easy to come by. How can one adopt a creative, scientific manner of thinking, and how can schools ensure students are adequately prepared for a future filled with science and technology? The robust integration of science in the curriculum at BCIS, as well as the focus on developing student skills such as creative and critical thinking through the school's learning impacts, prepare our BCISers to be the innovators of tomorrow with the knowledge of today.


Science learning at BCIS begins at the Early Childhood Center (ECC). The play-based pedagogy of the ECC encourages student exploration and interaction with the environment around them. What better way to get started on scientific concepts than experiencing them yourself? Students can observe the seeds they planted on the rooftop garden grow into plants with flowers and fruit. Or choose from different types of recycled materials to practice sustainable design while they create projects and crafts. Such activities may feel like play, but students are gaining first-hand experience with science learning such as life cycles, environmental impact, and innovative thinking. In this way, their play will help them transition to the more in-depth inquiry based learning they will experience in the years to come. Our ECC students go on to be successful science learners, as they have already had rich hands-on experiences with many complex science concepts.


As students transition from the ECC to the Elementary School (ES), play becomes inquiry. What does such inquiry-based learning look like, and how do BCIS students learn science when their classes are mostly transdisciplinary? It turns out such a transdisciplinary approach is a perfect match for scientific discovery. Much like play in the ECC, the ES curriculum framework allows students to connect scientific concepts to the world around them. For instance, ES students interested in environmental protection started a recycling project to first help reduce waste in their community. This personalized approach also allows students to choose specific areas that they are especially passionate about. Students even take trips to the laboratories in the Secondary School (SS) to learn from older students and teachers and see how the concepts they are learning can be turned into experiments. This ensures that they can connect science with their community and the world around them.


The inquiry-based approach to science continues and evolves as students enter the SS at BCIS. Like the ES, a focus is placed on the importance of the real impacts of science to better prepare students for a world filled with science and technology. "Our lessons are designed to help students make connections between what they learn and the real world," explains our Middle School science teacher, Placide. "We do not limit ourselves to the laboratory as, within safety limits, we design investigations that students can do at home," he elaborates. Students studying science at the BCIS Middle School will be exposed to many advanced theories from physics, chemistry, and biology. More importantly, they will even be able to see how such concepts are carried out in the world outside the school laboratory.


In the SS, students inquire about the world around them using the scientific method. Students can choose courses in specific scientific subjects that interest them, to further their theoretical knowledge as well as their experimental skills. Students will answer difficult knowledge-based questions, and apply them to real-world phenomena. In this way, they are prepared to think scientifically, and apply the many concepts they know to a rapidly changing technological world. "The reality is that information right now is fast-changing and something that was written for a textbook might be obsolete in a short while based on new discoveries," says Vince, another of our science teachers. "What we want our students to have is a good base in scientific thinking so that they can access the information available and be critical in analyzing and understanding them." The approach to science at BCIS ensures students receive a future-proof education that will make them lifelong learners, and give them the tools to adapt to an ever-changing world.


From the ECC to the SS, from play to inquiry, BCIS students set the foundation for lifelong learning and inquiry about the world we live in. "Science supports students in developing the tools to problem solve in a variety of situations and the ability to think critically and creatively about the world around them," states Matt, a science teacher in the High School. Whatever path students choose to follow after graduating from BCIS, they will be well-equipped with the skills to help them navigate the scientific world of today and tomorrow. The transdisciplinary nature of classes at BCIS ensures that students know how to best implement such skills in any subject area they dive into. As for science itself, every BCIS student is certainly knowledgeable enough to thrive in the world of science and technology Dr. Sagan once described.