Science Resource Center offers support outside the classroom

Part of ever-evolving education, curriculum and instruction is learning and delivering new methods to students that may go beyond the four walls of a classroom and the pages of a textbook.

CFISD offers a number of opportunities just like this in many subject areas. When it comes to science, one such opportunity is the Charlotte Davis Burns Science Resource Center (SRC) located across the street from Arnold Middle School at 11206 Telge Road. Established to provide support to science teachers and students at all grade levels, the SRC offers demonstrations and training, as well as hands-on activities and field trip opportunities among other things.

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The Charlotte Davis Burns Science Resource Center provides support to CFISD science teachers and students at all grade levels, offering demonstrations and training, as well as hands-on activities and field trip opportunities.

The facility houses hundreds of animals, many which were donated. There’s also an adjacent “pocket prairie,” which is a part of the Prairie Builders Schools & Parks program designed to form a bridge between the classroom and prairie science, culture, economics and global environmental stewardship.

“I was a generalist – an elementary science teacher,” said Denise Martin, SRC curriculum specialist. “For me, it really helped me to bring good science into my classroom. We’re very fortunate that we’re able to offer this resource to the teachers in Cy-Fair.”

In addition to working with teachers, SRC staff work with volunteers and parents on demonstrations and training, deliveries, lab kit preparations and usage, gardening and field trips. The volunteers in turn, are able to bring real-life science into the classroom and assist teachers in their instruction.

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In addition to working with teachers, Science Resource Center staff work with volunteers and parents on demonstrations and training. Field Trips also put students together with real-life science, including “Animal Odyssey,” a two-hour trip for kindergarten where they visit teacher- and volunteer-run stations housing fish, reptiles, birds and small mammals.

“The demos are all parent-driven,” said David Wallace, SRC manager. “And they’re only done by parents at the different schools.”

Added Martin: “So it’s exciting to be able to teach a child’s parent to take snakes into their classroom and they become superheroes for the day. Once they come to one training, we’ve hooked them in.”

Among the field trips available are “Animal Odyssey,” a two-hour trip for kindergarten where they visit teacher- and volunteer-run stations housing fish, reptiles, birds and small mammals. “Gulf Mysteries” allows first-grade students to explore the Gulf of Mexico and both the plants and animals that live in the environment. Third-grade students can participate in “Simple Machines,” where groups work through activities with inclined planes, levers, pulleys and wheels and axles.

But the curriculum can evolve, with the SRC ready to assist teachers who communicate their needs. It may be transporting and showcasing animals in a classroom for a day, to scheduling and overseeing a field trip to the facility.

“We just try to help the teachers any way we can,” Wallace said. “They’re just so appreciative of whatever we can help them do. I mean, that’s the whole reason we’re here.”

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Adjacent to the Science Resource Center is a “pocket prairie,” which is a part of the Prairie Builders Schools & Parks program designed to form a bridge between the classroom and prairie science, culture, economics and global environmental stewardship.

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Livestock Show and Sale an exclamation mark for FFA students

The program’s highlight came to a finish with a live premium auction Feb. 10, but the CFISD Livestock Show Association’s 24th annual Show and Sale is just part of what CFISD students and community members can experience through FFA and Agriculture Science education.

It’s still a topic that can open one’s eyes, said Corey Taylor, a Cypress Falls High School FFA adviser and Agriculture Science teacher, thanks in large part to Houston’s enormous urban footprint and the overall lack of exposure.

Sometimes, it’s just as simple as getting past that first question.

“We hear, ‘Does a student have to raise an animal to be a member of take the class?’” said Katie Dale, a Cypress Woods High School FFA adviser and Agriculture science teacher. “And we start off by saying you do not have to raise an animal to become involved.”

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The CFISD Livestock Show and Sale – like FFA – is way beyond animals in the show ring at the CFISD Exhibit Center during the Premium Sale during the show’s final day. Every aspect, which includes agriculture science certifications, showing livestock, agriculture mechanics and horticulture, can offer lifelong skills for students. The program can prepare them for careers and become confident in the decision-making process.

“Beyond this, it allows students to get a hands-on feeling for what it takes to become dedicated, responsible and invested in something that will make them grow as young people in both humble wins as well as defeat,” Taylor said. I like to tell my students involved in the program that ‘You either win or you learn.’ Either way, you aren’t losing.”

The three-day CFISD Livestock Show and Sale is the peak for most students involved in the program, as they are able to showcase their work to the CFISD community and business partners. Now in its 24th edition, the 2018 show and sale saw approximately 800 students combine for nearly 900 entries.

The first two days are the shows and judging to determine champions in 11 separate divisions (Broiler, Turkey, Ag Mechanics, Horticulture, Goat, Lamb, Steer, Heifer, Market Rabbits, Breeding Rabbits and Swine).

The final day brings the sales, with first the silent auction and freezer sale before the Premium Sale (live auction) ends the showcase event. A final amount for total sales generated is not yet available, but the Premium Sale unofficially raised nearly $340,000.

Students are expected to seek out buyers and donations, tying those marketing and social skills back to what the learn in the classroom. Sales, pledges and donations to show entries are used to help fund higher education or further a student’s experience in the program. The 2017 Volume Buyer Award went to Mike and Darlene Jarrar of Jarrar & Company, Inc., which contributed $93,600 to the nearly $800,000 in sale generated at last year’s event.

“You can see the passion in the students’ eyes and all their hard work surface, and it is a privilege to cheer for them on the side lines,” Dale said. “To watch my students in their big moment makes every late night and early morning worth it. I believe that FFA helps grow students into the best version of themselves. It teaches them responsibility, manners, sportsmanship, and financial responsibility. Watching a student transform into the best version of themselves through their livestock project and through everything else our chapter has to offer has been a major blessing and the best feeling in the world.”