JCPS: Next Generation science means more DIY learning - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

JCPS: Next Generation science means more DIY learning

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Students constructed towers using noodles and masking tape. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Students constructed towers using noodles and masking tape. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Molly Duffield (Source: WAVE 3 News) Molly Duffield (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Anthony Spellar (Source: WAVE 3 News) Anthony Spellar (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Asia Smith (Source: WAVE 3 News) Asia Smith (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Daliyah Shumake (Source: WAVE 3 News) Daliyah Shumake (Source: WAVE 3 News)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public Schools began the 2014-2015 school year with a Next Generation Standard for looking at science and engineering.

For Molly Duffield, it meant getting her Newburg Middle School seventh graders to use their noodles the first day. They formed Spaghetti Junctions” out of masking tape to design a tower. The tallest to hold up longest and strongest wins.

“It's about the basics of how to put the structure together,” said Anthony Spellar, an engineer with General Electric who was in the classroom as a mentor. “But more so, it's kind of changed the focus,” Duffield said. “From read the textbook, take notes, to you become the scientist.”

That's partly why Newburg, through the GE Foundation, has enlisted Spellar and other engineers to serve as real world advisors.

“We come in and talk to them about why they're doing it,” Spellar said. “They need to learn how to learn so they can apply this good stuff so we can compete in a global market.”

"You can know every fact in the book, but if you can't think, it's not gonna get you anywhere,” Duffield said.

Next Generation Science Standards call it deep conceptual understanding.

“Nowhere do you work by yourself anymore,” Spellar said. “You have to be able to share-everybody find their role in the success of the team.”

It's a big change for would-be-scientist Asia Smith, who's used to standing out and leading.

“Working with other people,” she said. “Some listened and some don't. Because it's very, very tough doing group work.”

It was a little easier for those who worked with a friend. “If you're working with somebody you're getting along with,” said Anaiah Daughtry.

JCPS officials say having GE put Newburg Middle and other schools ahead of the curve by committing money and manpower before Kentucky revised its standards for science and engineering education. The challenge, Duffield acknowledged, will be to determine how well students are meeting those goals.


“We want our kids to be able to really think critically, to apply the knowledge that they're gaining,” she said. 

For would-be singer Daliyah Shumake, engineering is as much about altering attitudes.

“Sometimes people butt heads because they think their logic is better than the others,” she said. “And-like you just kind of have to work it out.”

Engineering, as GE's Spellar puts it is practical, scientific solutions.

"That was the biggest takeaway I got (from Duffield's class Wednesday,)” he said. “The dynamics of how they were working together and everybody was involved.”

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