Teton Science Schools is known for its place-based education. But can that be replicated online, far from the Tetons and the surrounding ecosystem?
The Science Schools’ answer is yes.
Place Network Online is a new online curriculum for students around the world. It was developed over the last three years within existing Science Schools programming and serves home-school families and students that need to step out of school for a time. It also collaborates with teachers to implement projects in their classrooms.
Science Schools programs include two independent prekindergarten through 12th-grade schools in Wyoming and Idaho, field education for schools and visitors, and educator development in Wyoming and Idaho.
“The online revolution succeeded in that it made learning more personalized and more accessible across the world,” said Nate McClennen, vice president of education and innovation. “However, results are mediocre, as technology platforms have translated a traditional model and put it on a screen. Our goal is different. We want content delivered online, but implementation offline, where students are out in the real community making a difference and practicing the skills they need to thrive as adults.”
Essential questions drive each unit, which include “conflict and cooperation,” “health not hunger,” “for the people, by the people” and “global goals for sustainability.” Enrolled students can satisfy standards in English-language arts, social studies, science, mathematical practices, health and wellness, and visual arts. They will be evaluated with competency-based assessments.
Parent Molly Pace, of Star Valley, put her son in the pilot program. She said he “was so into it that we pressed pause on our other home-school programs to focus entirely on Place Network Online for the month.”
Middle school students can enroll now for this spring’s “global cultures” project, launching in mid-April. While initially focused on students in fifth through ninth grade, Place Network Online will eventually expand into elementary and high school grades.