Pre-service teachers at Fort Hays State University gain valuable experience on how to teach science through an after-school science program that was created to provide science field experience for elementary teacher candidates and give children a hands-on approach to science concepts.
"As a future teacher, I am able to get hands-on experience working with students," said Kristyn Glavin, Salina senior. "I am also able to see how a classroom is run with help from other group members and support from my supervisor."
This semester's topic is health, fitness, nutrition and the human body.
"This is an after school program that allows the students to learn science," said Stephanie Whitehead, Bennett, Colo., senior. "Because schools are so focused on reading and writing for the state standardized tests, science is oftentimes overlooked."
"State testing has been focused on meeting adequate yearly progress in reading and mathematics," said Stephanie Muth, instructor of teacher education. "The after school science program gives elementary students more instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields."
The program is five weeks out of each semester and meets after school once a week. Each of the elementary schools in Hays host the program on a rotating basis. Holy Family Elementary School is this semester's host.
Students are divided into four groups based on grade level. Each group is led by three or four teacher candidates supervised by a licensed instructor.
"I feel that our program is very unique and unlike any other university's," said Glavin. "The school district in Hays is very supportive of what we are doing, and they allow us to come into their schools so we are able to get the experience we need."
The on-campus science internship is the only internship that allows candidates to teach a whole unit. In the other internships, candidates are only able to teach one lesson from their units, but with the after-school program, the candidates have more opportunities to teach.
Teacher candidates learn how to meet the needs of all levels of learning from gifted students to special needs students similar to that of a typical classroom.