Elementary Science at YIS

Throughout the year students at YIS have enjoyed many exciting experiences that relate to science including cooking, gardening, marble runs, building simple machines, creating inventions, trips to the zoo, stargazing, growing class pets, trips to the park, guest speakers, making crystals, and much more.

Science at YIS is not as simple as memorizing facts and formulas. It is about creating questions, inquiring into concepts, hands on experiences, understanding processes and drawing conclusions.

Science is all around us. If you are looking to support your child as a scientist it is actually quite simple and very enjoyable. Encourage them to ask questions then experiment to find the answer, take them outdoors and they will naturally talk about nature, involve them in some cooking, plan a weekend trip to a museum, read and discuss non fiction texts together. Most importantly learn together. If you are having conversations about daily life and encouraging your child to ask questions then you are helping them to think scientifically. When they ask ‘silly’ questions such as “dad, why do we have earthquakes?”, or “mum why does my face go red when I get hot?”, be sure to follow up with your child and find out some answers together. You never know where the inquiry will take you.

A wonderful resource for both starting conversations and for researching information is wonderopolis.org. Please take a moment to take a look – it is updated with a new wonder each day.

Allow yourself to become swept up by your child’s enthusiasm for finding out more!

Geoff Geddes

ES Science Project Leader

Elementary Teachers

Culture of Thinking









“Can you imagine someone learning to dance, without watching other dancers?

Learning to paint, without looking at paintings?

Performing a surgery, without learning how others had done it first?”

In a compelling interview Ron Ritchhart, of Harvard’s Project Zero, asked something much like this. And he’s right. The problem with thinking is that by nature it’s often invisible. But learning tothink is not so different from learning to dance, paint or operate. The challenge to learn from others is to make it visible, so it can be modeled, unpacked and documented.

This idea is the seed of YIS’ Culture of Thinking project. Over the past year you may have heard your child talking about thinking routines, or seen displays of visible thinking practices around school. Maybe you’ve been in classes where you’ve noted big chart papers covered with colourful sticky notes, where students are documenting their thinking processes from various perspectives or over time. Perhaps you’ve overheard a teacher probing a student with the seemingly simple question: “What makes you say that?”.

The Culture of Thinking project has seen 18 teachers, from nearly every grade, complete Harvard’s Making Thinking Visible course over the past year. It has been an umbrella over learning and practices at staff meetings and professional development. It’s been shared through working group meetings, professional readings and numerous displays. Most importantly, its been a growing strand in the web of teaching and learning practices for students and teachers.

To take part, next time your child expresses an opinion or interpretation that could go deeper, try asking casually “What makes you say that?” and see where it takes you.

Jamie Raskin
Culture of Thinking Project Leader
Elementary Teacher