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Real Life Science Inquiry Now Limited

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The following post is from Pennye Rogers, a 2013-14 Hope Street Group Fellow who has been in education at the secondary level for 24 years. She currently teaches High School Physics, Anatomy/Physiology, Chemistry, and Biology while also serving as the Science Department Chair at Todd County Central High School in Elkton, Kentucky.

We need more financial support for education in Kentucky.

Everyone knows that hands-on activities are important when teaching science. It is common sense that students learn by doing. However, due to the constraints on my school's budget, my students have fewer opportunities to experience real-life science inquiry because we don't have the resources.

I find myself bringing materials from home more and more often. I research to find inexpensive activities that I can use in my classroom to enrich my students' classroom experience.

For the past several years, my school has utilized computers on a one-to-one ratio. There was no need for textbooks because every student had instant access to all texts, virtual labs, and research. All of that has changed.

Because we don't have textbooks and cannot afford to purchase them, I prepare Power Points of all my lessons and put them online so that my students will have access to background information. Work that had been done virtually now must be copied and given out to students.

All teachers in my building are limited to 1,600 copies per month. Try copying a test for 150 students that requires them to demonstrate their knowledge by showing their work and you will see how quickly that copy quota is met.

Money for materials is not the answer to all of our problems--teachers also need training. I have been resourceful and sought out free professional development in my area. However, if the training is during the school day, I cannot attend unless the cost of my substitute is included in the package. When a teacher is out, we have often had to cover extra classes because we can't always afford the extra expense of a substitute.

An education is the ticket to a better life. We, as teachers, are working hard to ensure that our students have the best we can give, but without additional resources, our students will fall behind and their chance at a better life is diminished.

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