I think a lot about the inspiration and imagination necessary to realize the possibilities and complexities of our mission statement. So when I walked into the library last Friday and was surrounded by our middle schoolers’ Science Fair projects, I was delighted and impressed by the ways their work demonstrated that mission in action.
Students met high standards articulated by their science teacher, Sarah Tolch, who was lead organizer of this year’s fair. Not only did Sarah offer clear guidelines for student project boards, she also provided work time, materials, and support for all students, with enough space for choice and creativity. The result? Every single middle school student produced a board with all required components, without sacrificing the unique personality of their work.
Before the fair, I observed students during an hour-long work session in Sarah’s science classroom. They were self-directed, responsive to one another and to the requirements of the project, and committed and attentive to their work. As one visiting judge commented after the fair, by the end, “they were truly experts in their own research.”
Students were supported by mentors in both the Crossroads and wider communities. Each science teacher, as well as the middle school faculty, our librarian, and our learning strategist, worked with students at various stages of project development. As a culmination, judges from our parent community, as well as local universities, engaged in brief interviews with students about their research, forging connections across institutions.
Committed to Justice and Equity
This year, Science Fair was an integral piece of the middle school science curriculum, intentionally organized to foster just and equitable experiences and outcomes. In-class work time, community materials, clear timelines and grading expectations, and regular opportunities for feedback all helped to increase student access and make assessment more just.
Our mission names big concepts. It is no small feat to translate these concepts to our daily activities as a school. This year, everyone involved with Science Fair nailed it. Congratulations to all of our middle schoolers and their teachers!
With great expectations,