Exemplary Science: An Inside look

Gone are the days of the boring science classes with rows of black lab tables, overhead projectors, and teachers who stand behind a podium spouting facts.

Today’s science education should focus on DISCOVERY, INQUIRY, WONDER, and student COLLABORATION to explore authentic science phenomena.

Let’s take a look inside an Exemplary Science Classroom…

The Teacher:

  • Provide their students with the opportunity to engage with science in a way that allows them to become lifelong learners. 
  • Goes beyond making students memorize facts or sit through a boring lecture. It allows students to “do” science. 
  • Continuously working in and outside of the classroom to gain more knowledge and to help students achieve their goals while also advancing the field of science education.
  • Provides a strong emphasis on rich, motivating, learning experiences for their students.
  • Creates lessons in ways that are inclusive for all students, allowing them to present their learned knowledge and experiences without fear of failure.
  • Knows their students’ personal interests and incorporates that into their lesson design, making the learning process fun!
  • Invites students to design and lead activities of interest while at the same time demonstrating their knowledge of a subject.
  • These educators see teaching as a journey, take risks, seize the “teachable moment,” and know how to read their students.
  • Invites family members to take part in the learning alongside their children.
  • Foster students’ curiosity, wonder and exploration about the wonderful field of science

The Student:

  • Engage in cooperative learning and not in isolation
  • Share ideas and teach each other
  • Excited to come to class
  • Toss out ideas without the fear of being wrong or silenced
  • Actively participating in inquiry-based learning activities
  • Feel empowered to make use of physical space in the classroom
Brain Teasers are a great way to initiate student curiosity and involvement in class discussion!

The Classroom:

  • Is a welcoming environment for all students
  • Incorporates flexible seating such as, areas that can be configured in various ways to support student discussion
  • Provides opportunities for gallery walks
  • Incorporates class pets, living plants, and other various stations that allow for curiosity and exploration to take place.

A Fall themed STEM Activity

The Pumpkin Catapult:

  1. Students work together in teams of 3-4
  2. They draw a design with measurements to scale using a computer program
  3. They then use provided materials to construct their catapults
  4. They carry-out 3 trial runs launching their mini pumpkins across a field
  5. While doing the trials, they collect the weight of their pumpkins, distance they travel, as well as the time is takes between the launch and the time pumpkins land
  6. They then will go back to the drawing boards and redesign the catapult to improve their creation
  7. They will complete 3 more trials and create 2 comparative graphs of the data they collected
  8. They will then share their findings with the class

S – Using a catapult to demonstrate concepts related to physics

T – The computer program they use to develop a design of their catapults

E – Planning, designing, constructing, and improving their catapults

M – Collecting measurements and creating graphs of the data they collect.

Connect with me on Twitter for the wonders of science! @MissHenry1010


  1. Hi Ms. Henry! I loved your post! The Ted Talk really helped explain exemplary science teaching! Your exemplary classroom ideas really focused on engagement and the importance of centering student learning. Your pumpkin catapult lesson looked so fun and would provide a great opportunity for students to “do” science! You mentioned creating a welcome environment for all students, do you have any tips for setting up a classroom with that in mind?

    • Thanks for reading! When it comes to setting up a classroom that creates a welcome environment for all students, many things need to be considered. I think arranging seating in a way that emphasizes student collaboration is important. I also think using culturally relevant/responsive teaching strategies helps build community within the classroom as well as allows students to make meaningful connections with the content and their personal lived experiences. Another option for classroom setup that will help create a welcome environment for students is to have areas in the room where they can go to relax or take a break for whatever reason it may be. Many teachers refer to these areas as calming corners!

  2. I love the idea of the STEM pumpkin catapult! This would be an awesome project and it would get students of all ages engaged. It would be awesome to see the pumpkins fly and collect the distance data. I also really liked that you included inclusive seating as a classroom example. As a high school student, I found the hard plastic chairs to be uncomfortable and they limited my movement. Would you include different seating options or different classroom spaces all together? Overall this post has great ideas for future teachers! Love the graphics too!!

    • Thank you for commenting! As for your question regarding seating options in the classroom, I think it’s great for teachers to provide seating options to students. If possible, I would use things such as exercise balls and wiggle seats that allow students to move around a bit and make sure they are in a comfortable environment that fosters learning. I also think it’s a great idea to have a calming corner where students can visit if they just need a minute to themselves. Bean bags would be a great option for an area like this in a classroom!

  3. Hi Ms. Henry!
    I really like that you included a Ted Talk in your post. The pumpkin catapult sounds like a great STEM orientated fall activity that will encourage collaboration in your class. I’m excited to see what other ideas you’ll have in your future blog posts.

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