DOUGLAS — After teaching traditional pre-kindergarten, second grade and fourth grade in her first 11 years at Douglas Elementary, Suzanne Bullinger is in her second year of instructing a newly-created offering at the school.
Bullinger teaches the school’s Science and Technology class, a “special” class each student in the building has, similar to art or gym. Each classroom comes to Bullinger’s room for 40 minute periods, twice a week.
The class features activities aligning with Science Technology Engineering and Math principles, but focus heavily on the science aspect, in addition to the science education students get in their home classroom.
“We want our kids to really have that inquiry-based science,” Bullinger said. “The teachers are still teaching earth and life science in their classroom, they’re doing a really good job of it.
“Then I’m taking physical science in here, so we can make sure kids get a really good base in science.”
Bullinger said she’ll look to incorporate more engineering into the class moving forward, but will keep the science elements strong while doing so.
“We’re trying to make sure the engineering matches the science,” she said. “So that we’re not just engineering things because we can, we’re engineering them for a purpose based on something we’ve learned about.”
Giving students a class where they can experiment with different technologies and areas of science helps create a positive attitude toward the subject.
“I think for us it’s mostly creating an attitude of ‘I’m interested in this. I can try this. It’s okay to mess about with something, make a mistake and try again,’” Bullinger said.
“It’s just keeping them interested in it. I think that applies across all disciplines.”
Transitioning from a traditional elementary classroom to a class where kids are coming in and out was a big adjustment, but a good one, Bullinger said.
“It’s been a switch, but it’s been a good switch,” she said. “It’s opened my eyes.
“It’s very different, having kids coming in and out and not having the relationship with the kids having them all day. It’s been a year and a half now, I feel like I’m finally getting my feet with that.”
On a recent project, Bullinger had students create stop motion video projects, inspired by inspirational quotes featured in the book “Wonder,” which the students had recently read.
“The all read the book ‘Wonder’ in class,” Bullinger said. “They have to use one of the inspirational quotes to make a stop motion movie.
“It’s a way for them to have a focus on their stop motion, matching something they did in class.”
Giving students access to different technology and tools at a young age can prepare them for future experiences.
“Our thinking is if they get to practice with these tools at a young age and mess around with it, someday they’re going to have the opportunity to create some things and say ‘Oh yeah, I know how to use that. I’ve tried that before,’” Bullinger said.
— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.