By Joe Bachman
Science rules — and State Superintendent Tony Evers agrees.
Evers made a trip to Washington Elementary and Woodside Elementary on Wednesday to take a peek at how Wisconsin Rapids schools are leading the way for science curriculum.
“Wisconsin Rapids has a well known elementary science program,” said Evers. “In our schools across the state it’s really hard to find high quality programs, so I came here to see what’s going on — it’s great.”
Part of the superintendent’s job is to visit schools to gather information on what they’re doing and relay success stories throughout the state. According to Evers, science should be a higher priority in public schools.
“To the credit of Wisconsin Rapids they’ve decided that science is a top priority,” said Evers. “It’s a great program and I want to tell people around the state.”
Much of the credit goes to the curriculum set by WRPS Science Teacher & Coordinator Dave Bergerson, who has taken an interactive hands-on approach to teaching kids science, and expressing the importance of the tools involved. A heightened science curriculum also incorporates the English Language Arts standards of reading, writing, and math.
“It promotes literacy — it’s not just science that they’re doing,” said Bergerson. “They’re communicating, they’re writing, reading. The more modes that these kids can experience doing it, and the more sensory ways we can get them to experience it, the better.”
According to Bergerson, the emphasis isn’t just placed on understanding the science, but utilizing other reading, writing and math skills to use to enhance the learning experience. The same program is slated to see progress through elementary school and in a few years a focus on middle and high schools.
“I look at my role as ‘yes, I’m a curriculum leader’, but I am their first line of support,” said Bergerson.
The focus on science in Wisconsin Rapids schools has been constant enough to impress the state superintendent, but more importantly, the excitement and knowledge attained by students is invaluable.
“It gets kids thinking about their part in the world around them,” said Woodside teacher Amberell Applebee. “Instead of just letting things happen around them, they think of how they can manipulate their environment and understand components of it. It gives them ownership in their role in society.”