Science Lab enhances Lower School curriculum

The Lower School Science Lab is a hands-on extension to learning in the classroom.
Elizabeth Maloan, who has taught at USJ for 14 years and is in her first year as Science Lab teacher, expands on classroom instruction with a closer look at the subject matter. She teaches first through fifth graders during a weekly 45-minute lab.

“I do different things with each of them,” Maloan said. “I try to go along with what they are studying in the classroom and give them hands-on things to do.”

Each class learns something different and more detailed each year, she said.
For example, first graders learned about mammals before their field trip to the zoo, and they began studying trees. Second graders studied amphibians, and they learned how to identify different types of trees before their tree field trip. And third graders studied desert and forest ecosystems.

Before leaving fifth grade, students have dissected deer hearts and examined plant and animal cells under a microscope.

But not everything is based on the classroom curriculum, Maloan said. Students will take a closer look at the science behind current events, such as a snowfall.

“If there is something that comes up or happens, then I grab the opportunity to teach them about that.”

Maloan also helped clean out the koi pond and return it to operation. Students are now able to study the fish and the pond’s ecosystem.

Her first year as Science Lab teacher has been time consuming as she worked to create lesson plans and find materials for the students to study. However, she said, the students enjoy the lab, and it’s been a learning experience for everyone.

“I think it’s fun,” Maloan said. “I’m learning along with them because I’m doing all the research to be able to teach them about it.”