National Head Start website adds museum science education guides

December 8th, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Marvelous Explorations through Science and Stories project now has teacher’s guides available online through the national Head Start program and at the Florida Museum of Natural History website.

The fun and educational science-centered guides provide a challenging and engaging curriculum for early childhood students and teachers. The guides cover a range of science topics including animals, physical science, the environment and the human body.

Shari Ellis, project director at the Florida Museum’s Center for Informal Science Education, said the curriculum was created for preschoolers, but can be easily adapted for early elementary grades.

“The goal was to provide open and free access to these guides so that more teachers can become comfortable exploring science with young children,” Ellis said.

Marvelous Explorations through Science and Stories was developed by a partnership among the Florida Museum, and Head Start programs and public libraries in Alachua and Marion counties. The guides were field tested in more than 100 classrooms for eight years, and are available on the Florida Museum website, www.flmnh.ufl.edu/education/cise/mess.htm, and at http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/, the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website.

“We found that most teachers really enjoy teaching science to young children, but they sometimes lack developmentally appropriate resources,” Ellis said. “Often, teachers find activities online designed for older children and then may give up on science because the activities don’t work well. Teachers who use the MESS guides consistently report they are amazed at what their students can learn, and the children’s parents are, too.”

The goal of MESS is to foster children’s language and literacy development, curiosity, motivation, problem solving and general knowledge through science experiences.

Grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and ChevronTexaco Foundation provided initial funding. Additional funding to expand the program was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families, Florida Museum Associates, Thomas H. Maren Foundation, Sonny’s, Wachovia Foundation and the Alachua County Community Agency Partnership Program.

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Source: Shari Ellis, 352-273-2066, shellis@flmnh.ufl.edu
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu