Science at Hausner: Curiosity, Creativity and Excellence

Science at Hausner: Curiosity, Creativity and Excellence
Carol Piraino, Associate Head of School and Chief Academic Officer

Last month you read about Hausner’s impressive achievements at the 2024 Synopsys Science and Technology Championship. Students from all over Santa Clara County compete in this annual event. The public school districts represented include Palo Alto Unified School District, San Jose Unified, Los Altos, Los Gatos, and Cupertino. The private schools include the Challenger Schools, the Stratford Schools, Harker, Bellarmine, and Castilleja. For a complete list of participating schools, see the Synopsys website.

Hausner is one of the smallest middle schools competing at Synopsys, and despite this, we annually take home top prizes including this year where we were recognized as one of the best middle schools and where our Science Chair, Liat Baranoff, received an Outstanding Teacher award. 

We applaud our upper school science teachers, Liat Baranoff and Laura Coughlin for their inspiring work with our upper school students, while we also celebrate the wonderful foundation our lower school teachers have built. 

Our lower school teachers have developed inquiry-based science lessons that inspire curiosity,  questioning and critical thinking using lessons from the Mystery Science curriculum. Mystery Science is an NGSS-aligned program that includes hands-on investigations, robust background material, lesson anchors, extensions and authentic assessments all designed to engage and challenge students to develop scientific reasoning, observation, and questioning skills. The lessons are typically interactive, collaborative and require students to apply previous knowledge to novel situations. 

This year, with support from Pooja Dimba serving as a lower school science support teacher, our general studies teachers have extended many of the Mystery Science lessons to include deeper analysis and more challenging questions. The result has been even greater engagement during science lessons and stronger development of scientific thinking among our lower school students which were evidenced in this year’s lower school entries in our school-wide STEM Fair.

Hausner has been adding technology and engineering lessons in the creativity lab as well as in the classroom to further enhance the lower school science program. For example, we have recently acquired Forward EDU STEM kits, our third graders have been programming in Python (through Tynker and CMU CS Academy), and we celebrated the global Robotics Week in the first week of April.

In addition, we piloted the MAP science test in 4th grade this year and found the results to be another indicator of our students’ success in science. Out of the 35 students who took the test, 17 of them scored above the 90th percentile, 12 of these actually scored above the 95th percentile. The median score for the grade was the 88th percentile.  

Hausner continues to enhance our students’ scientific thinking skills, enabling critical thinking across the curricular areas to inspire our students to change the world. 

More From Our Blog and News