Elementary Pilot Program

teachers on Life Walk on the Ross Terrace
Understanding science and engineering principles and practices is essential for every American citizen and science learning must be a focus at all levels of education. We argue, however, that students’ experiences in elementary school science play a pivotal role in developing students’ scientific thinking skills and positive attitude toward pursuing science in the future.

The transformative work being done by Urban Advantage teachers in their middle school classrooms across the five boroughs inspired the UA team to extend this work down into the elementary schools in the city. The Elementary Program is designed to address the pressing need for dramatically improved STEM literacy among elementary school students and to equip teachers of grades 3, 4, and 5 with the tools, skills, and techniques to engage students effectively in STEM learning. It puts greater emphasis on the role of student thinking and questioning, explanations, and investigations in the classroom in the form of whole class explorations of science phenomena from the natural world.

planting demonstration
facilitator working with teachers


We seek to expand our program into more schools in the near future. This expansion would allow us to work with more schools and teachers across the five boroughs to increase the participation of students in STEM learning experiences and begin to create a runway for children leading up into their middle school years.

Some participant thoughts:

“I felt confident that being here as a learner and as a teacher, that I knew what I was doing. Because we don’t always know all the content that we’re supposed to know. So [being here] gave me confidence to do the next unit in my science, and it was nice to just be with like-minded people and feel comfortable.”  ~UA Elementary Teacher

“I always leave with the feeling that I have learned something new.” – UA Elementary Administrator 

“[This program] has made me love teaching science again!” – UA participant 

“I think that’s something that has been done very reflectively in this program, making us feel like learners, and separating that learner/teacher mindset and I find myself using that when I’m planning on my own and that’s because of how this program is structured and how we’re forced to think like a learner, like a kid. What would that question sound like, we kept rephrasing our questions and our claims, based on what would a 4th grader say, what would a 3rd grader say?” –UA Elementary Teacher

planting demonstration
facilitator working with teachers