Promoting science and learning about the world

David Wolff

Neveln Elementary Principal

One of the most important subjects for our students to learn is science, because science helps us understand how the world works and gives us a sense of wonder, curiosity, and adventure.  To help our students build a strong foundation of scientific concepts, here at Neveln Elementary School we approach science education by incorporating literacy, mathematics, and interpersonal skills through the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) LAUNCH program.

David Wolff

In this program, students explore scientific concepts through engaging problems which require a design-process mindset to find a solution.  Our first graders are exploring concepts like Light and Sound, Space, and Animal Adaptations; second graders are learning about Properties of Matter, Changes in Earth, and Programming Computer Games; third graders are studying Forces and Motion, Genetics Patterns of Plants; fourth graders are digging deeper in Mechanical Motion, Energy Conversions, and how the Human Brain responds.

LAUNCH sparks students’ curiosity and wonder through problems such as ‘how to rescue animals using simple machines’ and ‘how to prevent concussions from happening on the playing field.’ Students then utilize the engineering design process to use their imagination and creativity to develop a solution to the problem.  Then, through a sequence of trial and error, students continuously refine their solution.

Each problem requires students to apply mathematical skills such as using tools to measure, using multiple operations, and representing data in graphs and tables.  Problems build literacy skills through researching concepts to build background knowledge, using academic language in conversations, and writing reports to summarize newly acquired knowledge. As this happens, students are developing their interpersonal skills by engaging in conversations with peers and instructors, negotiating common team norms, and working on conflict-resolution as they find resolutions when disputes occur on how to solve a problem.

Our LAUNCH program has also partnered with additional science-focused opportunities such as VEX IQ Robotics and the Science Fair Mentoring Project.  All of this, then, allows our students to see science as a means to exploring and understanding how the world works.

To learn more about Neveln Elementary School’s LAUNCH program, contact David Wolff, Principal, at david.wolff@austin.k12.mn.us or Clint Phillips, LAUNCH Teacher, at clint.phillips@austin.k12.mn.us.

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