A Head Start On Science (AHSOS)

Academy educator Tiffany Allen working on A Head Start On Science 

A Head Start on Science (AHSOS) is a successful program providing training in inquiry-based science teaching methods for early childhood educators in Philadelphia. The program began in 2008 as a partnership between the Academy of Natural Sciences, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Please Touch Museum. Funding for the initial project was received from the Barra Foundation and PNC’s Grow up Great with Science program. 

Interested in participating in an early childhood teacher workshop? Click here for more information (include link to http://www.ansp.org/education/professional-development/).

Initially, the program worked with a select group of community-partner center teachers to implement AHSOS.  The community-partner centers are funded by Federal Head Start and PreK Counts (Pennsylvania’s version of Head Start funding) and are associated with the School District of Philadelphia. The centers serve over 3,700 students and approximately 500 teachers. 

The three main objectives of A Head Start on Science are to:

  • provide workshops in classroom modeling and continued support for Head Start/PA PreK Counts early childhood teachers to help them incorporate the scientific inquiry, “hands-on” model of teaching science into the Head Start/PA PreK Counts curriculum;
  • introduce students to the Pennsylvania Early Childhood Standards for science in ways that are fun, accessible, and relevant to their daily lives; and
  • demonstrate to parents, guardians, and caregivers the relevance and value of science education to their families.

From 2008 to 2011, AHSOS worked with 200 teacher/assistant pairs from 38 different community centers. Each team participated in seven three-hour traditional professional development workshops on early childhood science techniques and topics as well as follow-up site visits and programming from Academy teachers, Please Touch Museum teachers, and SDP coaches. Formative evaluations of this ongoing project have shown increases in teachers’ comfort level in science teaching and an increase in time spent teaching science in the classroom (Stein & Ebertowski, 2009; Foutz & Messick, 2010).

Since 2011, AHSOS has been partnering with KenCrest Schools (2011–2013) and Belmont Charter School (2013–2014) in order to go beyond increasing content knowledge through traditional professional development toward developing these teachers’ confidence as professional educators. Teachers participating in the professional learning program (PLC) would become leaders in their schools, transmitting knowledge and skills to their fellow teachers not participating in the program. Teachers would develop the skills and the confidence to evaluate their own teaching and each other’s science teaching, and teachers would develop and present inquiry-based science lessons to the group as professionals. Both KenCrest Schools and Belmont Charter School had been involved with AHSOS from its earliest stages.

For more information about this program, contact Mariah Romaninsky, Senior Manager of STEM Education, at mjr377@drexel.edu.