Janis Chun: The Academy School Science Teacher
The Academy’s lower school science program is devoted to inquiry-based learning. Through hands-on investigations students learn core concepts, develop analytical skills, and practice creative problem solving. They are expected to answer questions and come to their own conclusions based on evidence and observations. Their understanding is then refined through discussion and further investigations. Students regularly perform guided experiments and learn to design their own to further explore ideas.
For the engineering component of science, students are expected to solve design challenges throughout the year. Including engineering projects in the curriculum supports the development of critical thinking skills and innovation. Through identifying problems, tinkering, analyzing, and redesigning their solutions, students develop resilience and confidence in their problem solving skills.
In the Spring, all students, including kindergarteners, have the opportunity to design and perform an experiment of their own choosing. They pose a question, perform experiments, interpret and write-up their findings, and finally, present their discoveries at the annual Academy Science Fair.
Science is all about curiosity, asking questions, and getting a better understanding of the world in which we live, which makes it such a natural interest for young students. Specific content for each grade is guided, but not limited to the Next Generation Science Standards. Classes will be on a two year track with combined grade levels. My goal is to engage the students with engaging, meaningful curriculum that fosters a passion for learning.
Unit 1: Weather – Students will learn how to observe and measure weather by building their own weather observation tools, study changing weather patterns, explore the water cycle, and discover the forces behind fascinating weather phenomena.
Unit 2: Astronomy – This unit takes students on a trip around our solar system and beyond to help students get a better understanding of the universe.
Unit 3: Animals and their Habitats – Students will study simple animals such as worms, insects, and birds while learning about their habitats and adaptations.
Unit 4: Human Anatomy – Anatomy is a study of the human body through the various organ systems that will help young students discover what is happening on the inside.
Unit 1: Earth and its Oceans – Students will start the year with a look at the Earth’s composition, how it’s changed over time, and a further study into Earth’s oceans with a focus on adaptations to different environments.
Unit 2: Motion – Through a hands-on study of how things move, students will design, test, and build their way to a better understanding of energy, forces, waves, and light.
Unit 3: Chemical Synthesis – Through a series of experiments, students will develop basic chemistry lab skills and an appreciation for the beauty of science with the products they create.
Unit 4: Botany – This class studies how plants grow and are affected by environmental stimuli.
Unit 1: Electricity and Magnetism – A very hands-on unit covering how electricity works, simple circuits, magnets, and combining the two in electromagnets.
Unit 2: Rocks and Minerals – Students will study the formation, identification, and classification of rocks and minerals.
Unit 3: Chemical Reactions – A series of experiments on how molecules interact and change with a strong focus on metals and acids.
ABOUT JANIS CHUN
Janis is originally from Hawaii, but moved around a lot as part of a military family. She came to Berkeley for college, fell in love with the area, and never left. She holds a BS in Chemical Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. During college, she worked at the Lawrence Hall of Science in the BioLab taking care of the animals, but really enjoyed interacting with young children so she stayed on after graduating to teach science based summer camps. She did a year in Americorps and was assigned to a low income elementary school in Oakland Chinatown. After Americorps, she found QuantumCamp and was taken with their methodology that stressed the hands-on way of teaching science. QuantumCamp already had a middle and high school program so she was brought on to develop and design their elementary school program. Her experience with QuantumCamp allowed her to test different ways of presenting science material and to figure out how to create curriculum that was engaging, inspiring, yet accessible and age appropriate. She left QuantumCamp in 2012 to start her own mobile science lab and continued to develop hands-on curriculum. She is so excited to share her passion for science with the young scientists of The Academy. It is her hope that students will be not only inspired by science, just genuinely enjoy learning.