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June 11, 2001

Calvin and GRCS Awarded $30k
Calvin's Ecosystem Preserve

Calvin College and the Grand Rapids Christian Schools have been awarded a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant, given through the Independent Colleges Office, is intended to help attract college students to careers as science teachers and will enable the Grand Rapids Christian Schools to implement an inquiry-based science curriculum into their new balanced calendar school, which opens in August 2002.

The balanced calendar school is the latest in a series of new innovative educational programs offered by the Grand Rapids Christian Schools. The balanced calendar concept will add two weeks to the start of the school year and two weeks to the end, thus shortening the traditional summer vacation by four weeks. In addition, there will be breaks every seven weeks during the school year, which will return those four weeks of vacation to the calendar.

The balanced calendar program will also give the K-5 students an opportunity to do extracurricular study during the weeks off. For example, students might spend a week at Calvin's Ecosystem Preserve or at a camp. The NSF grant will help the GRCS develop a science curriculum for the balanced calendar school that will focus on inquiry-based learning, helping students to develop a questioning attitude about what they are experiencing, rather than on just memorizing the facts of science.

This, in turn, leads them to shape their own learning. For example, students will be encouraged to study the environment around their school, to raise questions about potential problem areas and to propose solutions to the problems.

That system of learning at the K-5 level has been a major focus of research at Calvin College in recent years. This summer, thanks to a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Calvin is working with the Grand Rapids Public Schools to develop a K-5 inquiry-based science curriculum. That partnership, which sees Calvin professors and students work with K-5 teachers, will be a model for the new Calvin-GRCS collaboration.

Each GRCS teacher chosen for the balanced calendar school will be paired with Calvin students for two years. During 2001-2002 the Calvin students and the GRCS teachers will learn about inquiry based teaching and plan the curriculum for the balanced calendar school. The students also will serve as classroom aides in the regular classroom.

During 2002-2003, the first year of operation for the balanced calendar school, the Calvin students will work as partners with the teachers to implement the curriculum. Calvin students will also help plan the week-long enrichment experiences. Most of the $30,000 grant ($20,000) will pay for scholarships for the Calvin students. The remaining money will be used for stipend funds for the GRCS teachers, a stipend for the project director and to pay for extra supplies.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)