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Delaware Museum of Natural History helps blaze trail for pre-K science educators

A group of preschoolers and their teachers joined Governor Jack Markell (D-Delaware) at the Delaware Museum of Natural history Monday to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Seeing Science Everywhere, the museum’s pre-kindergarten education resource.

Museum executive director Halsey Spruance says the program essentially teaches the students by teaching the teachers; offering a combination of lesson plans and outdoor learning environments to help teachers incorporate science to their daily curriculum.

“In a nutshell Seeing Science Everywhere helps children learn about the world around them through exploration, questioning and predicting,” said Spruance. “[And it] teaches early childhood educators how to insert the process of scientific inquiry into the various curriculum areas.”

As a pre-K instructor at Wilmington’s Latin American Community center, Laura Sindoni says she has no problem integrating the program’s curriculum into her classroom, and the material is getting her students interested in learning about science.

“It’s really true the ‘Seeing Science Everywhere’, it does happen,” Sindoni said. “Once you kind of spark that in their minds, then they look for it and they see it and they incorporate it into everything they do.”

Seeing Science Everywhere was made possible by more than $500,000 from PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great initiative. The program currently serves more than thirty teachers and six hundred and fifteen students a year.

A survey of teachers shows the program has been helpful. Over half the teachers using the program have increased the use of equipment, natural objects, plants and animals in their science lessons, and a similar number say they have a better understanding of the materials and how best to use them.

PNC regional president Nichols Marsini said they did some serious research before deciding to commit $350 million over ten years to their overall educational efforts.

“And the biggest impact we could make,” Marsini said “was in early childhood education. We’ve certainly put our money where we thought we could devote our resources and we’ve been a huge champion of the cause.”

The museum’s school programs coordinator Lois Lamond adds the program and has been the primary contributor of lesson plans to the just launched Grow Up Great online lesson center, thanks to additional funding from PNC.

“It’s a wonderful resource for educators in general,” Lamond said, “parents, teachers, preschool directors. They’re wonderful lessons that are very hands-on and very child-centered.”

Governor Markell showed his support of the partnerships that led to the development of the program over the last five years, and the importance of engaging preschoolers for the economic future.

“The research says the most effective economic development investment that a state can make is in early childhood education,” he said.