Every year PFFS-University 8th graders have scored significantly higher on the AIMS Science assessment than their peers both in Tucson and in the state of Arizona. This is the case because throughout our 10 years, we have always made the teaching and learning of science a priority. Our students are in a Science class 325 minutes per week (an average of 65 minutes daily), whereas the daily average statewide, is closer to 45-50 mins of science daily. Over a 180-day school year – that makes a difference.
We also use a problem-based instructional model to design all of our curricula (not only in Science) where an essential/driving question is at the center of each learning experience and students follow a process of designed inquiry to find solutions to the problem(s).
In addition to these regular problem-based, classroom learning experiences, we also design interdisciplinary (cross-subject), project-based units of instruction we call ‘Gateways’ that take place throughout the school year.
On top of all of this, every Friday, one-third of our students are out of the building (for most of the day) participating in an expeditionary learning experience. Many of these ‘Friday Expeditions‘ have an environmental focus – all of them are designed to be inquiry-based forays into our larger community. It has always been our intention that PFFS-University be a middle grades (6-8) learning community where discovery is at the very core.