Gillett schools will pilot Smithsonian science curriculum

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Grant from Bond Foundation enables innovative STEM education
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com

The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation has awarded a $12,000 grant to the Einstein Project for a transformation of the Gillett Elementary School science curriculum that’s being described as “a game changer.”

The grant enables Gillett, in collaboration with the Einstein Project, to be the first school district to use a new elementary school curriculum designed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, Curt Angeli, elementary school principal, told the Gillett School Board on Thursday.

“This is almost bigger than I thought it was,” he said. “As the details came through, we began to realize how exciting this is — how much it’s going to align with next-generation standards, how much it’s putting us in line with Wisconsin standards for science education. This is a nationally vetted model.”

The school is making room for the Einstein Project, the Bond Foundation and even visitors from the Smithsonian itself, Angeli said.

“We will be the sandbox for them to pilot these programs,” he said, adding that it’s expected the grant will be renewed for another two years, which means a $36,000 investment in upgrading the school’s science curriculum.

The funds will be used to purchase the newest curriculum materials and provide specialized professional development for the classroom teachers as they shift instructional practices to better prepare students to be innovative problem solvers and critical thinkers, Angeli said.

Founded in Green Bay in 1990, the Einstein Project aims to provide resources to teachers to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education with hands-on materials and curriculum plans.

Kelly Ellis, executive director, said the group is proud to partner with the Gillett School District and the Bond Foundation.

“In return, the Einstein Project will receive continuous feedback and allow us to better serve not only Gillett students, but provide feedback back to other regional districts, state education organizations and the Smithsonian Science Education Center,” Ellis said. “It’s truly an exciting time for all of us.”