It took about five years to develop and implement a new elementary science curriculum, but now Baraboo’s youngest students are making observations and actively seeking information themselves.

Developed largely by retired Baraboo teacher and now education consultant Karen Mesmer, the curriculum focuses on hands-on activities that are meant to allow children to explore rather than simply being told lessons.

“Kids love it,” said first-grade teacher Emily Culbertson. “We’re doing kazoos, and I had one student just running around the room, way over-excited, screaming ‘I love science’ at the top of his lungs. It was just absolutely precious.”

Sometimes the lessons get noisy and look chaotic, but “you know in that moment, you’re doing something right — even though it’s too loud — because you’ve got kids actually engaged and thinking and excited about what they’re doing,” Culbertson said.

The curriculum is based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which the Baraboo School District adopted in 2015. But Mesmer said she had started working on it in the 2013-14 school year, implementing changes “bit by bit” with help from other teachers. By last year, all of the elementary units were in place across the district.

Click here to read the full story in the Baraboo News Republic (February 1, 2019)

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