On March 9 of 2020, I walked out of Greylock Elementary School, fully expecting to return the following week. I was a Science Fellow, part of a program where Williams College students visit one of the North Adams Public Schools (NAPS) every week to teach a science lesson. My partner and I had just finished our magnets lesson, where we watched a Bill Nye video with the students and experimented with magnetic materials around the classroom. As we left the room, we waved goodbye to the teacher and students, saying, “See you on next Monday!” But next Monday I was home, and the classroom was empty.
I still remember the first time I stepped foot into Brayton Elementary School in North Adams. After weeks of searching for the perfect job with the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA), I was given the opportunity to work at Brayton as both a science fellow and a first grade buddy. This meant that once a week, I would eat lunch with the first graders as well as play with them at recess. Then, on Fridays, I would teach some of those same first graders science.
As schools began to shut down in March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many anxious parents scrambled and searched for ways to maintain and support their children’s education. This was a time unlike any other; school administrators and teachers needed to create a remote, emergency curriculum quickly, while many families faced the challenge of an enormous gap in learning, daily routines, and structure for their children. For Assistant Professor of Arabic Studies Brahim El Guabli and I (Shaina), in the midst of this uncertainty and stress came an opportunity to make global connections for young learners.
Over the course of three weeks, third-grade science classes in three local schools have been able to witness an underwater circle of life from the comfort of their classrooms.
For eight years now, through the Winter Study program at Williams College, faculty and students have brought a hands-on biology program called BioEYES into area schools, adapted from a program at the University of Pennsylvania.
It’s a sunny afternoon, but students at Brayton Elementary School are already staring at constellations in the night sky.
After an astronomy lesson about the stars, first-graders in Jacqueline Thomas’ class were tasked with forming their own constellations using gold star-shaped stickers and black paper. With limitless imagination, the students guessed what each others’ constellations formed.
Learning went both ways at Williams College’s Summer Science Lab this month. “One of my interns said this morning, ‘The kids were my teachers this week as well,’ ” lab director Stephen Bechtel said last week. Bechtel spoke as week one came to an end at the day camp for rising fifth- and sixth-grade students. The program saw a bump in participation this summer, reaching its capacity of 36 children per week. Those children explored scientific themes and did experiments under the direction of Williams professors Chip Lovett and David Richardson, who are assisted by 18 college interns from Williams and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
A science-based “wow” factor is very much in play at the 17th Williams College Summer Science Lab at the college’s Morley Scientific Laboratory.
The college students are teaching the kids, but in the end, the kids end up teaching their teachers, too. Entering the third year of a four-year grant, undergraduates from MCLA and Williams College have worked with both elementary teachers and college science professors to develop inquiry-based units of instruction based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in a program called “Teaching to Learn.” They then implemented their programs with students in Brayton, Colegrove and Greylock schools – and then made tweaks as they learned from the kindergarten through sixth-graders what works.
Matthew McNaughton ’16, Emily Roach ’16, and Leslie Chae ’16, participated in the Williams Elementary Outreach iTeam, a pilot program of CLiA. They worked with students at Brayton Elementary in North Adams for “The Hour of Code,” to introduce young students to what coding is and get them excited. The students had limited educational experiences with computers and computer science.
Students aren’t just playing computer games, they’re learning to make them.
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For the past week, the fourth-grade classrooms of Sean MacDonald and Jenn Szymanski at Lanesborough Elementary School have been transformed into satellite biology laboratories, where kids could study genetics, embryonic development and animal science from the comfort of their own desks and chairs. The Williams College Center for Learning in Action for six years has donated the staff and supplies to run the “BioEYES” program, developed at the University of Pennsylvania, in local schools. This is the first year the program has been extended to Lanesborough.
Brayton Elementary School has received a $35,000 boost in technology thanks to donations from BJ’s Wholesale and a former resident connected to the school system. Stephen Drotter, son of late Drury High School Principal Stephen J. Drotter, donated $25,000 as memorial to his wife, Lynn Whitney Dion Drotter. The two donations will afford about 50 iPads for Brayton as well as technical support and teacher training.
There are plenty of creams, tablets and elixirs on the market that claim to cure health problems and ease ailments, but do they actually work?
During this month’s Williams College Summer Science Lab sessions, students were able to use professional tools to investigate household compounds, putting things like antacids to the test to see which ones really work.
Emily George had no idea that a dozen neighborhood schools once dotted the city where she lives.
But Emily and other Brayton Elementary School third-graders learned about a former school on Miner Street and even one-room schools, among others that existed circa-1896.
Learning the geography of New England. Creating illustrated books. Studying how to draw koi fish using Japanese techniques.
These are just a few of the innovate ways teachers at Greylock and Brayton elementary schools are using iPads in their classrooms — iPads given to the schools through their relationship with Williams College.
Williams College President Adam Falk will today join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.
Fourth-grade students and teachers at Williamstown, Brayton, and Greylock Elementary Schools have engaged this fall in a newly developed science curriculum created in collaboration with Williams College. The curriculum focuses on the subject of “Energy” and was written last summer by Sarah Gottesman ’14 and Mpaza Kapembwa ’15 under the guidance of Williams Elementary Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Swoap, Experiential Education Coordinator Paula Consolini, and fourth-grade teachers from the three elementary schools.