Welcome to the Science Lab! My name is Jennifer Lees, and I am proud to be the Science Teacher here at Williamsburg Northside Lower School. I received my MSEd from Brooklyn College as a New York City Teaching Fellow and taught for four years in a public elementary school before coming to Williamsburg Northside. I began here as a Prekindergarten teacher for two years before moving into my current dual role (Science/STEAM Coordinator and Assistant Head of Lower School), which I have held for five years. I truly love guiding the learning of children and connecting with families, and I am dedicated to supporting all of our students as they work to achieve their full potential.
Students in Kindergarten-Grade 5 receive two periods of science instruction each week, one in the classroom and one in the lab on the 6th floor. Our lab classes are small groups – 12 students or less – that teach grade-level content and skills as described by the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards help insure that each student builds a solid base of scientific knowledge to prepare them for middle school and beyond. Lab classes are challenging, often built around a problem that students must collaborate to devise, and test a solution, to solve. I also look for ways to make meaningful connections to math and literacy wherever possible.
The classroom session is known as Integrated Science, the purpose of which is to connect Social Studies-based Project Work with scientific investigations and engineering challenges. Integrated Science is co-planned and co-taught with each classroom team, and yields some of our most exciting and challenging work – constructing and testing water filters, constructing an elevator to use in the model of our school, designing and racing sail boats as part of a neighborhood transportation study, inventing tools and technology to address the challenges of immigration, and learning how the Statue of Liberty acquired her signature color to name just a few.
In both the lab and classroom, we frequently reference two cycles that have many applications in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) work: the scientific method and the engineering design process. Simply put, the scientific method helps us to answer questions and the engineering design process helps us to solve problems. Both share the common feature of being circular – answers and solutions always lead to new questions and problems. This approach does two important things: it creates an environment where creativity and innovation are welcome and encouraged, and it insists that students be precise, exacting and reflective in their work.
We might not know exactly what the future holds for our young learners, but we know that it will require creativity, collaboration and rigorous attention to detail. Scientists at Northside are building these skills every week – come visit us in the Science Lab and see for yourself!