Mystery Science provides open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science — by making it easy for elementary school teachers to deliver an incredible science lesson without a science background.
Rather than following a textbook approach to science vocabulary, Mystery Science employs hands-on activities to engage students with the wonders of science and expose them to the joy of scientific inquiry at an early age.
The site, created by former Facebook product manager for News Feed Keith Schacht and former LePort Schools science director Doug Peltz, makes it easy for teachers to deliver an incredible science lesson without a science background. With funding from a seed round led by 500 Startups, Mystery Science aspires to bring the unique approach Peltz created to every classroom. Lessons are aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and designed to supplement existing curriculum.
“Elementary teachers are in an impossible situation, they’re expected to teach and be experts on every subject. Unfortunately the system too easily forces science to be an afterthought, given that few elementary teachers have a background in science and school funding is so tightly tied to test results in reading and math. Teachers understandably fall back on a textbook approach, which results in students being exposed to science vocabulary but never the mysteries behind the science. So we’re creating a new approach with less prep for teachers and more learning for students,” said Peltz, who taught science in the classroom for seven years before teaming up with Schacht to create the site.
Students in the United States rank 20th out of 34 countries in science, a situation that has not improved in the last five years despite a renewed focused on science and math education (PISA, 2012). “In spite of the national focus on STEM education, there is little focus on elementary science education. But these are the formative years when it’s most important,” said Schacht.
“Mystery Science supports teachers in exposing students to the joy of scientific inquiry at an early age,” Schacht continued, “We want to create that perfect ‘a-ha’ moment for students while helping elementary teachers who often struggle to teach science on top of every other subject.” Online modules include everything educators need, from visuals and videos, to step-by-step activity instructions and click-to-order materials.
While participating in a limited pilot with elementary teachers across the country, Katy Hyatt from Walnut Elementary in Iowa saw a marked difference in her class: “After starting Mystery Science, we had parent-teacher conferences and a parent remarked that whatever I’m doing with science right now, it’s really engaging. This mom’s son was coming home each night and telling her what he learned that day, taking her outside to look at the moon and find the constellations.”
The Mystery Science website is now live at mysteryscience.com. There, teachers can watch a video to learn more, explore a sample lesson, and sign up to participate for the upcoming school year.