The BHS 21st Century Fund supports faculty-led pilot programs focused on curriculum innovation, fostering academic success and inspiration for all students.
School Year 2015-2016 VOLUME IV

What Is "Drawing for Understanding
in Field Science"?
And what do student field scientists do in winter?

Is it Science? Is it Art? Drawing for Understanding in Field Science (DUFS) is an innovative curriculum that dissolves these boundaries and teaches students to use observational drawing to study the natural world. With little time and lots of material to cover, Science teachers at BHS must sometimes turn for expediency to textbooks and carefully guided lab experiments. The 21st Century Fund's DUFS elective gives students a chance to construct  knowledge in a different way:
by observing, hypothesizing, looking for patterns, and making inferences about what they see. 
DUFS demands critical thinking and challenges students to practice habits of mind that make for active, engaged and inventive learners in every field. 

So, what do our DUFS students study in the dead of winter? The Cambrian Explosion: that evolutionary period that resulted in the divergence of most modern animal groups. As co-teacher Jill Sifantus (science) explains, "It was an experimental time in evolution. All these organisms with lots of different body plans whittled down to a few, one of which was bilateral symmetry." Under the guidance of Jill and co-teacher Donna Sartanowicz (visual art), students observe a series of vertebrates: a fish, a turtle, a snake and a bird. With each animal, they observe and draw the whole animal, its skeleton, and a dissection (though not of the bird). Through their investigations, students see first-hand how organs and skeletons changed as vertebrates moved from water to land.

Any day now, the class will be ready to move outdoors and observe the miracles of spring. They will study how stationary organisms  have evolved to solve "important problems": how to eat, avoid (or in some cases, invite) being eaten, and reproduce. And BHS students will get to do this again next year--in the fall, winter and spring. The 21st Century Fund is thrilled to have supported DUFS during its testing and evaluation period. The class has been successfully absorbed into the BHS budget for next year.

image above: Claire Bialek
image at left: from the archives
April 2016
Coming up...
Breakfast with the Fund
Friday, April 29,

What's the Big Idea?
Race and Community: Seeing the World Through Different Lenses - Part III:
World Cafe:
A Round Table Discussion 
Across Brookline About Race
Wednesday, May 4

Watch our website for  details on this event and on the rescheduled Racial Equity in Education presentation.  

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