St. Bernard Middle School is in the process of renovating a room in the basement of Founders Hall for a new science lab. Science teacher, Martha Wells is delighted to receive her own lab for students in the newly formed 7th and 8th grade school. “We have been borrowing equipment from the high school lab. Having our own lab and equipment suited to the skill level of a middle school student will allow our students to perform more hands-on activities.”
Middle School Principal, John Tekulve said he plans to have the room completed by the end of Thanksgiving Break. Tables and cabinets have already been moved into the classroom. Parents are volunteering their time and are helping by cleaning windows and painting floors.
St. Bernard Middle School is taking part in Science and Technology Concepts for Middle Schools, a pilot program through Carolina Science. A module for each class has been secured. The eighth grade science class will study properties of matter including investigations of the densities of solids, liquids and gases. Students will observe how matter interacts and how it behaves when heated. They then provide explanations of their observations. The themes of these inquiries are revisited in detail throughout the unit, giving students opportunities to re-examine and modify their explanations.
The seventh grade module is a study of organisms from macro to micro. This module will tap the curiosity of students by first helping students clarify what they already know about organisms and then perform a series of engaging, thought-provoking, hands-on activities that will enable them to extend their knowledge. They will work with a minimum of 16 living organisms over a period of 20 lessons.
“This new program will make concepts taught in the science classroom come alive” Wells added. “For instance, they will grow plants as well as experiment with cross pollination and collect data on second and third generations of plants to understand heredity. They will create a miniature ecosystem as they study various plants and animals.” With exposure to the many living organisms, Wells hopes that the students will come to understand that a delicate balance exists in nature. ”Often times this balance is upset and most of the time it is a result of human actions,” stressed Wells. “I tell my students the most important concept I want them to gain is that this planet is not just for human use. All God’s creatures belong here and we need to respect the environment.”
The pilot program allows St. Bernard to try the materials before purchasing. Each module for each class averages $3,000. St. Bernard plans to add four more modules over the next two years. An account for the science lab has been set up. Grants have been secured through Operation Round-Up and donations are being accepted. Anyone wishing to contribute to the new science lab should send their contributions made payable to St. Bernard Prep School, 1600 St. Bernard Drive, SE, Cullman, AL 35055 Attn: Science Lab.