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Brooklyn Dreams Sparks Science Enthusiasm with Advanced Courses and Community Partnerships

For one Brooklyn-area charter school, encouraging a life-long enthusiasm for science takes place daily, with an added emphasis on National Science Day, celebrated annually on Feb. 28.

Following school leader, Omar Thomas, principal at
Brooklyn Dreams Charter School, students are inspired to develop a hands-on love for science exploration from an early age and continue building on that throughout their education.



“As a former earth science educator, my love of science intensified when I could use materials in the world to reinforce the content that I taught daily,” said Thomas. “I saw the positive effects that practice had on students' ability to make connections in learning science content and how those students performed much better on formative and summative assessments than in classes that did not have a hands-on approach.”

Brooklyn Dreams offers two unique programs for its students, aimed at providing access to a high-quality, engaging science curriculum. One course, Regents Earth Science, is an interdisciplinary program that builds on science concepts students acquire in earlier grades.



The second program centers on a partnership with Newkirk Community Garden, which provides kindergarten through eighth-grade students access to an outdoor learning laboratory where they can practice and perfect skills and concepts that are taught in the classroom. “The goal of the community garden is to allow scholars to access greenspace and the ability to connect science concepts that are taught,” said Thomas.

As part of
National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) network of schools across the country, Brooklyn Dreams follows objectives of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by incorporating hands-on activities into the science curriculum. This model centers around the 5E Model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate), which provides students interactive opportunities to learn concepts.



Brenda Farrelly, curriculum and instruction science team lead at NHA, shared that hands-on exploration is vital for student comprehension in the sciences, and in many cases, opens up students’ eyes for possibilities in a science-related career in the future.

“Previously, science education was based on memorizing facts and figures, but when teachers engage students in argumentation and use data to bring real-life phenomena into students’ lives, that’s where they spark an interest,” she explained.



Thomas agrees, sharing that his love of science intensified when he was able to use materials from the real world to reinforce the content he taught inside his classroom. “I would take classes outside and have them look for artifacts to learn the concepts that they were studying later in the period,” he reflected.


National Science Day (NSD) is celebrated annually across the globe on Feb. 28 to commemorate the discovery of the 'Raman Effect' by Indian physicist Sir CV Raman on Feb. 28, 1928.