Like any true scientist, Upper School science teacher Naomi Choodnovskiy is deeply curious about the world around her, and she wants her students to be, too. Naomi creates the ideal environment for exploration by giving students the freedom to experiment and make discoveries on their own. Through hands-on experiences and endless opportunities to problem-solve, students leave with a desire to question the world around them and the skills to find the answers.
Everyone started as a problem solver. Once you were five-years-old, drawing with crayons and trying to make the color green. You tried different combinations and none worked until you tried yellow and blue. That's experimenting. We do it all the time.
My electives are interdisciplinary. In Forensic Science we explore chemistry as we identify unknown substances in the chemistry lab. We also learn about biology through blood typing and DNA, and physics through examining blood splatter patterns. My class meets at the same time as Auguste's [art class] Microscopic Photography. My students were extracting DNA from bananas, and then Auguste's students used those samples to take photographs with their microscopes.
I really want the kids to build things and figure out how to problem-solve. I want to spark ideas. If something isn’t working, how do you make it work? [For example], we might not have a material that is the correct size for a particular procedure, so I’ll ask them to look around and figure out what else they can use. In Advanced Chemistry I’ll present the lab students are going to complete, but I won’t provide the exact procedure or set materials. I have them figure out what they need themselves instead of giving them a preset procedure.
I want students to understand how to create and read data. Often in the world we see graphs or charts that don't make sense or are intentionally misleading. I want them to be able to look at data and say, "Wait a minute. This axis is wrong." I want them to be more scientifically literate.
What’s interesting about Calhoun students is they have a sense of curiosity that I haven't seen at other schools before. They're genuinely interested in knowing how things work.
Teacher Talks is a series spotlighting the educators of Calhoun and their approach to progressive education.