Andover School of Montessori gave its lower-elementary students an experiment last year — allowing them their first chance to participate in an informal science fair.
It was a huge success, according to Head of School Joanna DeStefanis, leading Andover Montessori to host its inaugural school-wide Science Fair last week.
The event was optional for lower-elementary students and mandatory for upper-elementary and middle-school students. The school’s seventh- and eighth-graders also have the opportunity to participate in the state-wide science and engineering fair this spring.
An ardent supporter of science fairs, DeStefanis applauded the expanded opportunities for her students as she welcomed parents and the community to last week’s fair.
“Although not considered part of a Montessori curriculum per se, this type of work meshes beautifully with our pedagogy,” she wrote in a letter to Montessori families. “Students are able to conduct independent or group research and gain experience applying the scientific method through a project-based model.”
DeStefanis said the odds are that many of the school’s students will go on to careers in the fields of science and engineering. The skills they glean from their science fair projects will prove useful in their chosen professions, she said.
“A student’s proficiency in being able to organize, analyze and synthesize a large volume of information is invaluable,” she wrote. “Through experimentation, students learn to become comfortable making mistakes and understand that they are a natural part of the scientific process. When students explore the sciences through an area that interests them, a world of opportunity opens for them.”