Plainville Community Schools, 47 Robert Holcomb Way, Plainville CT 06062, (860)793-3200

Middle School Receives Petit Family Foundation Grant To Enhance Science Program

The Middle School of Plainville has received a $14,880 grant from the Petit Family Foundation to enhance its science program, according to Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Dr. Linda Van Wagenen. The grant is the third provided by the Petit Family Foundation in support of the middle school’s science program.

According to Middle School Science Instructor David Moore, grant applications to the Petit Family Foundation to date have focused on increasing opportunities and interest in science for girls. With the current funding from the Petit Family Foundation, the middle school has been able to design a unit in grades six, seven, and eight that increases opportunities and interest in science for both male and female students.The sixth grade unit focuses on meteorology, where students learn about the principles behind forecasting weather and running a weather station. Students in seventh grade act as epidemiologists to determine the cause of a simulated outbreak of disease, and develop actions that should be taken. In the eighth grade unit, students will be working in a Biotechnology Laboratory, solving real world problems, while using advanced equipment. Activities in the upcoming eighth grade unit include identifying and isolating genes which represent genetic traits that cause people to look differently, and investigating the restriction enzyme that discriminates between normal and disease genes, which cause sickle cell anemia. The units have been based on allowing students to do what real scientists do and create interactions between students and real world scientists. The equipment provided by the Petit Family Foundation grant creates the means to simulate what real world scientists do. The grant has also provided funding to have real world scientists come in to speak to and work with students.

"The previous grants had students simulate real world situations and listen to and ask questions of real world scientists. The eighth grade unit will focus on students working in a real lab, as a real scientist would. They will be using advanced microscopes and techniques, such as electrophoresis, to solve real world problems," explained Moore. "Real world scientists will work alongside students. Each year the expectation to act and think like a scientist increases while the simulated activities become more realistic."

"We are grateful to the Petit Family Foundation for their generous support of our Middle School science program. Mr. Moore and the entire department are dedicated to ensuring that each student is able to think and behave like a scientist. Their hands-on, minds-on approach to learning and teaching is beneficial to all students, and we have evidence to suggest that these units funded by the Petit Family Foundation are encouraging our female students to consider careers in science," said Dr. Van Wagenen.

For information on the work of the Petit Family Foundation, visit their website at

-Posted on August 11, 2011 at 11:54 AM

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