Connect Science utilizes free-standing lessons and academic integration to foster social-emotional efficacy in students. The program is designed to occur over 10-12 weeks with 30-60 minute daily lessons. The program culminates with a student-led service-learning project. Students collaboratively develop this project throughout the curriculum, applying learned social-emotional skills and scientific knowledge to benefit the local community. Teachers are encouraged to customize the calendar in ways to match their classroom schedules and needs.
Lessons broadly fall into three categories: social-emotional skills and practice, scientific content knowledge, and service-learning (with content from all experiences spiraled throughout). All lessons feature alignment to academic standards and social-emotional competencies, learning objectives, essential vocabulary, opportunities for students to link to prior knowledge, and a suggested sequence of activities. Lessons focusing on social-emotional competence provide opportunities to practice SEL. Service-learning lessons offer opportunities for students to generalize those skills into their community. Currently, Connect Science offers one complete curriculum, 4th Grade, with the science content focus being energy. This curriculum can be adjusted to be appropriate for 3rd and 5th graders. Additionally, Connect Science has a ‘Blueprint’ curriculum that provides a framework to enable teachers to create a service-learning experience for students based on their local science standards. Connect Science is designated as promising because, at this time, differentiated curricula for multiple grade levels are not offered.
Training and Implementation Support
Schools and districts looking to implement Connect Science begin with an onsite, 4-day training. This training is designed for teachers, but curriculum directors, admins, and other related staff are encouraged to attend as well. Generally, Connect Science facilitates the professional learning experience over four consecutive days; however, it can be facilitated over two successive weekends. The training includes a discussion of why SEL is essential, Connect Science’s approach and theory of action related to SEL, a walkthrough of the curriculum, and collaborative planning and modeling activities.
In the fourth session, the group plans for a fifth session for later in the implementation process. This fifth session is facilitated virtually and can take different forms depending on needs. Teachers can participate in these coaching-sessions individually or as a group. Additionally, they are encouraged to include some of their students in the conversation. After implementing Connect Science, teachers participate in a final reflection day, completing a self-assessment aligned to the National Standards for service learning. In addition to the initial training and follow-up sessions, the Connect Science curriculum provides implementation fidelity tools such as templates for individual lesson planning and scope and sequence, sample scripts for lessons, and guidance for effective adaptation.
Evidence of Effectiveness
Results from a randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation conducted in the 2017-2018 academic year supported the effectiveness of the Connect Science for elementary students. In sum, these evaluations included 868 4th grade students in 41 classrooms (Black = 37%, White = 34%, Hispanic = 24% ;50% of student body at participating schools was eligible for SNAP and or TANF). This evaluation found that students receiving instruction using the Connect Science Program showed significantly greater growth in science achievement and student-report energy attitudes and behaviors (two subscales of civic engagement) than the control group (outcomes reported approximately 20 weeks after baseline while controlling for outcome pretest).
Rimm-Kaufman, S.E., et al. (2019). An Early Efficacy Study of Connect Science: A Service Learning Program integrating Science and Social and Emotional Learning. Unpublished Manuscript.