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Tumwater middle schools try new approach in science classes after pandemic

To re-engage students, teachers are turning to more hands-on learning.

TUMWATER, Wash. — The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way students at Tumwater middle schools learn science.

The teachers are emphasizing on hands-on learning in the form of more lab work and experiments, instead of lectures and book studies.

“That’s actually what real science is,” said George Bush Middle School teacher Jason Roberts. “It’s just a lot more fun.”

Roberts said students are still suffering from the era of school shutdowns and online classes. He said it’s noticeable both in learning loss and emotionally.

"Some of the roughhousing, the playing and stuff you would see out on the playground at recess in elementary school, we're seeing that in the hallways here at the middle school,” said Roberts.

Over the summer, the Tumwater School District, with federal funding, offered career-oriented summer school courses including drone piloting and architecture.

Teacher Michelle Paul said students have not been as engaged as they were before the pandemic.

"Their lives were really put on hold," Paul said. "They were scared."

She is working to implement curriculum changes in the middle schools.

"It is a best practice to do this kind of work, but I think COVID did push us to do this kind of work, to really jump in, because we know kids needed more."

Sixth grader Becca Lincoln looked into a microscope for the first time Tuesday for a lesson on plankton.

"It's way more fun than reading a book, I know that for sure,” said Becca.


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