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ISEC Hosts International Guest from Academia Mexicana de Ciencias to Collaborate with El Camino Real Academy

(Center) Gwen Warniment, Program Director for ISEC, and (right) Carmen Villavicencio, Coordinator for Distance Education at Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, interact with 5th grade students at El Camino Real during an inquiry science lesson on mixture and solutions.

October 19, 2015 – Northern New Mexico Inquiry Science Education Consortium (ISEC) and the LANL Foundation hosted a collaborative meeting with Carmen Villavicencio, Coordinator for Distance Education for Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (AMC). 

Ms. Villavicencio and Dr. Rick Scott, founding ISEC director and US National Academy of Sciences appointee, met with ISEC staff, toured the Science Resource Center and observed science classes taught in Spanish at El Camino Real Academy in Santa Fe to see the inquiry science program model in action from the ground up.

Under the direction of Ms. Villavicencio, AMC is developing a program called La Ciencia en tu Escuela in collaboration with the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences that will offer teacher training, comprehensive curriculum, and experiential materials to teach science and mathematics to children throughout the Americas using the inquiry method for self-directed learning, similar to ISEC.

The preschool curriculum from La Ciencia en tu Escuela introduces children to developmentally appropriate science concepts such as shapes and sizes, measurements and counting, weather and temperature, and opacity and permeability of materials. Also integrated into the curriculum are prewriting exercises, observation techniques, pattern recognition, object characteristics and classification, questioning, discussion, and storytelling. The program’s professional development component will offer digital online training.

That’s where El Camino Real Academy (ECRA) comes in as an excellent, research-based language acquisition model and inquiry learning resource. As a premier dual-language school, ECRA emphasizes learning and full emersion in both Spanish and English. Principal Jack Lain is considering piloting La Ciencia en tu Escuela curriculum in pre-K classes.

David Call, the school’s dual-language coordinator, has seen significant changes in science instruction in recent years with the introduction of ISEC. Science has been a vehicle not only for increased content knowledge but also student collaboration, problem solving and dual language development. This year, science instruction at ECRA is conducted completely in Spanish, while math and other subjects are taught in both languages.

Villavicencio was excited to interact with the students in the classes she observed with lessons from units in Balance and Motion, Liquids and Solids, Sound, Magnetism and Electricity, and Mixture and Solutions. She noted from her experience as an elementary school teacher in Mexico that small group instruction is effective in increasing student engagement, yet challenging in large classes.

Gwen Warniment, program director of ISEC, recognizes that science is a global community of practice. “Much like science, partnerships in education strengthen results,” said Warniment. “Our collaboration with Carmen and her program honor the international education and science communities and the very families we serve.”

For additional information on the LANL Foundation, the inquiry science program or STEM learning opportunities, visit www.lanlfoundation.org or contact Gwen Warniment at (505) 753-8890.

(Standing) David Call, Dual-language Coordinator at El Camino Real Academy; Dr. Rick Scott, founding ISEC Director and US National Academy of Sciences appointee; and (seated) Gwen Warniment, Program Director for ISEC, observe and interact with a first grade class inquiry science lesson on Forces and Motion.

Photos: Andrea Multari, ©LANL Foundation

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