This framework is designed to have a series of two-month modules that will align with the trimester or quarter (whichever is applicable). The neuroscience lens will be the point of departure for all modules and themes and will begin with a hands-on neuroscience experiment. There will be a series of common components in each module (outlined below) and every student will be involved in a design thinking challenge that will culminate in a community symposium or fireside chat. During the community symposium, students will have the opportunity to present their theme related projects. This could take the form of a typical science project or it could be a play, movie, sculpture, virtual reality experience or some other medium. Experts in the field (some of whom will have helped guide student projects through mentorship) will be brought in to interact with the community, not to give a presentation, but rather to be interviewed by a panel of students in an interactive/open ended forum with room for audience participation. The event could then be filmed and broadcast by the Erie Tiger Network to help reach an even larger audience. Finally, high school students could then take the ideas covered in the symposium and write a more sophisticated newspaper article or paper for the appropriate class.
To ensure continuity between modules and similar experiences across grade levels each module will have the same set of components. Modules are vertically aligned and developed by themes repeating every three years(e.g. PK/K,3,6; 1,4,7; 2,5,8). The content builds on itself to allow students to experience different experiments and design challenges while still operating within the same module theme.
The themes are purposely open-ended and designed to encapsulate the richness of content related to neuroscience and its applications from highly scientific processes and innovative technologies to environmental effects that shape how people behave and learn as individuals and as societies. The spanning nature of each theme makes it easier to meet the developmental needs of the grade level, while maintaining continuity in a PK-8 system. This same broadness increases the possibility of more easily connecting students with related experts in the field.
Each theme will create a context for exploring a variety of interrelated disciplines under the lens of neuroscience. As we virtually travel through the brain, each component will function as a departure point for understanding different environments and the organisms that live in them. Having a consistent theme PK-8 will allow for significant mentorship opportunities between grade levels and will lend itself to vertical teacher collaboration especially at key transitional years like 3rd, 5th and 8th grades. Essentially, each theme will function as a driving mechanism for connecting the entire school around a central learning topic.