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GEMS Program focuses on getting young students involved in Math and Science

You won't see books open in Jennifer Sydenstricker's classroom.

"We have a beetle and paper clips and paper…"

Not for this lesson.

"We are seeing how strong he is…"

It's all hands on.

Jennifer Sydenstricker, teacher

"It's the way scientists do science. To expect a child to read a book and understand science, to me that's incomprehensible. You can't expect someone to learn about the way an animal uses its body parts unless they can see it."

It's part of the gems program—a partnership between the university of louisville and jefferson county public schools. Short for groundwork education in math and science, gems puts science and math graduate students in the classroom with elementary school students.

Christy Rich, U of L Dept. of Chemistry

"The fellows bring expertise in content and the teachers have expertise in how to communicate and teach math and science. So they work together to do that in the classroom. The vehicle is what you're seeing right here. That's hands on, inquiry based instruction."

It's a technique to provoke interest in math and science, subjects that get a reputation of being boring once kids reach a certain age.

Rich adds

"By middle school some of them are turned off and we're hoping by putting mathematicians, chemists, geo-scientists in a room with them they will see we're not all crazy haired with pocket protectors. We're just like them."

Putting these graduate fellows in with the elementary age students adds to the mission of creating excitement and improving understanding in math and science classrooms. The ultimate goal is seeing increased test scores.

Rich continues

"This has been a wonderful program for us because these kids are naturally curious and natural scientists."

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