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Back To School Time: Teachers Use Science As Basis For Real Life Learning

August 11, 2008

Murfreesboro, TN – Tennessee's children are heading back to school, and science education is getting special attention this year as districts attempt to boost science test scores.

Cynthia Jones is a fourth-grade teacher at the Discovery School in Murfreesboro. She says that, while the state's goal is to improve science test scores, science is also one of the best ways to help kids learn about real-life issues and to hone critical thinking skills.

"If there's one thing we need in this country, it's to foster creative higher-level thinking so that we continue to be a world power."

Recruiting the best teachers also tops the list of state goals this school year. Tennessee currently loses half of all its new teachers in their first five years of teaching.

Jones says that in other states, there are housing subsidies, loan assistance and higher salaries to help attract and retain new teachers. She says in today's tough economic times, it's critical for the state to look at those possibilities.

"If we want our teachers to be top-notch, we have to pay them as they do in corporate America."

Jones says science is easy to incorporate into her classroom with little investment. She uses things like basic gardening and cooking in her lessons, and encourages parents to work together with their kids at home on science assignments.

Barbara Dab/Steve Powers, Public News Service - TN