At The Brick Church School, children engage with a wide range of science topics, tools, and materials.  They discover acorns and autumn leaves in Central Park, test the properties of ice or magnets, grow and observe plants, and explore what it feels like to be a pretend dinosaur or astronaut.  Teachers provide materials for children to experiment with, share information through books and other media, set out magnifying glasses or binoculars to promote careful observation, and plan art projects to stretch children’s understanding and assess their knowledge.   Our students leave Brick with an age-appropriate understanding of how the natural world works, and with the curiosity and confidence to find out more.

Our young scientists do much of their learning through project work.  A topic is addressed in many different ways over weeks or months; experiments are carried out; models are constructed; and play is enriched by props such as toy polar bears or doctor’s tools.  The topics come from the children or are chosen to be of high interest to them. Teachers photograph evidence of the children’s excitement and learning, recording their words and posting them for parents and others to see.  The project may culminate in a field trip or a classroom museum where family members and other classes are invited to learn about the work that’s been done.

Our children need to build skills as a foundation for later academic success.  They find skill work relevant and enjoyable when it’s part of a high-interest science study.    For example, they sort and classify materials such as seeds, feathers, toy animals, or seashells, noticing how they are the same and different.  They count, estimate, measure, and weigh, with older children using rulers, measuring cups, and balance scales.  They make predictions.  They draw their observations and practice using careful, descriptive language to explain their discoveries.  They learn to responsibly and successfully handle tools such as eye droppers, tweezers, sieves, trowels, and flashlights, building motor control.  They listen carefully to information, instructions, and safety rules.  Skills children develop through science are useful across the curriculum.

Science teaching at The Brick Church School respects that children learn in different ways.  When the dramatic play center turns into a veterinarian’s clinic, or tubes and pulleys appear in the block area, children are free to explore the materials if they choose.  When all children are expected to participate in a lesson, they often have the freedom to problem-solve in their own way, deciding which recycled materials they think will make a boat that really floats, for example, and working alone or with a partner.  Teachers present information visually, through speaking and discussion, and of course with hands-on materials.  Sensory experiences provide even the youngest children with scientific encounters.  The child at the sandbox is learning the physical properties of sand, and scoops up a mountain expecting some of it to slide back down.  The child at the water table notices that some toys float and some sink.  Teachers can then ask questions to help the child build theories and categories for sinking and floating, or wet sand versus dry.   Active role play is encouraged and music can make facts easier to remember or inspire children with the beauty of the natural world.  When work is displayed at the end of a science project, we see the different ways children have been encouraged to build and express their theories and knowledge.
The School’s mission calls for children to internalize values of love, respect, and the joy of learning.  Science offers many opportunities to model, foster, and discuss these values.  Caring for the environment, studying living things without harming them, looking at human diversity and celebrating ways we are the same and different, and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of nature are all part of science education at Brick.  We take seriously our responsibility to offer children authentic, meaningful science encounters that help them to feel a part of their natural world, eager to understand ever more of its complexity as they grow.