Choctaw students think like scientists

Thursday, February 21st 2008, 6:50 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

Oklahoma's future innovators are learning their critical thinking skills right now. Many are using the help of the K20 Center and their unique teaching system.

4th graders at Westfall Elementary in Choctaw conducted a science experiment and predicted the mixture's reaction.

Brittany Filson is the teacher. While she is guiding her students, she's not really telling them anything about what's going to happen.

"They're more independent," Filson said. "They're more willing to come up with their own answers they're not just waiting for me to give them to them."

Janis Slater from the K20 Center said it's called inquiry learning.

"It allows students to think more critically and to actually think how scientists think rather than just reading the information from the book," Slater said.

This style of teaching has been introduced by the K20 center. The group works with 500 schools in Oklahoma, and supplies classrooms with tools for "hands on" learning.

K20 also trains the teachers. K20 shows them how to lead their kids in the right direction, toward innovative thinking.

"The students, rather than being given the information, start with a question," Slater said. "And they have to answer that question using materials that the teacher provides. When they answer the question, the teacher expands upon that."

A method that the center believes will make a difference, by fostering our state's future scientists, engineers, technicians and mathematicians.

The science education program at Westfall Elementary in Choctaw is funded by a grant sponsored by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation. The money comes from the state of Oklahoma.