Youngsters who come into Lisa Steadman’s seventh grade science class can expect discipline and hard work, but they’ll leave remembering hands-on learning experiences and a teacher who brought the textbook to life.

“Science can be very abstract. It’s full of abstract concepts, and I feel like my job as a science teacher is to try to make those concepts concrete,” Steadman said. “It’s always more fun when they’re involved in classroom activities, rather than me standing up at the front and lecturing. I spend very little time lecturing. That’s not my teaching style at all.”

Steadman said students at Woodward Middle School can expect a hands-on learning approach to science classes.

“We use an inquiry approach where the students participate in a lab or activity, so it’s very hands-on, minds-on. The kids, once they’ve experienced it, they can learn from their observations and experiences that way,” said Steadman.

Students in Steadman’s class Friday afternoon studied the position and tilt of the Earth relative to the sun as it makes it’s yearly orbit. Steadman began the lesson with a small lecture and review, beefing up textbook material through a powerpoint presentation. Then it was onto fun as students came up to the front of the class participating in a hands-on exercise that illustrated the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

“It doesn’t make sense until they experience it. They could probably come back tomorrow and do that same thing, but faster and better because they’ve experienced it,” Steadman said. “If students aren’t actively involved, and don’t experience their learning, they they’re probably not going to remember it.

“For most people, a positive experience they would probably remember would be an activity or a lab, something that they can connect with their lives. They probably won’t remember reading a chapter out of a textbook.”

In addition to hands-on learning, the ability to connect the classroom with the outside world is another expectation students in Steadman’s class can have.

“Science connects to their everyday life. Whether it’s life, earth or physical science, they should be able to relate whatever they’re studying to the real world,” said Steadman. “We try to provide them with the experiences at school that they might not be able to get anywhere else.”

Steadman said her students recently used solar viewing glasses to observe the sun.

“Unless they have solar viewing glasses, which some of them don’t and probably won’t every, that might be a once in a lifetime experience for them to safely look at the sun,” said Steadman. “A lot of students are successful in science that might not be successful in other classes because they enjoy the hands-on activities.”

While the math and science curriculum may not be everyone’s strongest suit, Steadman said she believes every child can succeed if given the proper time and attention.

“As long as you’re making it exciting for each student, and try to figure out how to help them, then that By using a variety of teaching styles, hopefully I can reach every student, and sometimes it does take extra time,” said Steadman. “We can work with them one on one to help them. If they need more help on a concept, we can pull them in and give them extra help. A lot of times discussing topics with their peers can help also.”

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