A group of teachers sitting at tables in a library are working together.

Teachers in Bourbon County Schools participate in a Discovery Education professional development on May 26, 2023 (Photo by Lauren Green, Kentucky Department of Education)

PARIS, Ky. – When Bourbon County elementary school students return to their classrooms this fall, they will notice a new science program that will inspire their curiosity and foster a deep understanding of scientific principles through hands-on experimentation.

The district has launched a partnership with Discovery Education, which will allow teachers to integrate the company’s suite of innovative digital resources into instruction to create dynamic learning environments that more deeply engage students in science.

“The goal is to aid them in developing a love for learning along with the foundational knowledge needed to explore future career pathways in the sciences,” said Laura Wilson, director of Elementary Continuous Improvement for Bourbon County Schools. “We want our students to have equitable access to a science curriculum that is frequently updated in real time.”

Wilson said the district had been seeking a suite of digital and print resources that would drive deeper engagement in science instruction to support the district’s youngest learners.

At the end of May, teachers from all three Bourbon County elementary schools gathered to learn more about Discovery Education and received training on how to use it in their classrooms.

The program, set to be implemented into students’ daily coursework, is being made possible by Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The federal funding supports the safe and sustained return to in-person learning and expands equity by supporting students who need it the most, particularly those deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers and district officials say the ESSER funding is finally bringing the county the research-based science curriculum they have been searching for.

Shelley Koch, a fourth-grade teacher at Cane Ridge Elementary, said teachers were impressed by the added resources the program will bring.

“We have not had new science materials in years,” she said.

“With the previous resources, it was difficult to find materials that were on level or difficult enough for my students,” Koch said. “I love the Discovery Learning science program because it has level features to adapt for each student. I am so excited to see the growth in my students, especially after they learn the program and know how it works.”

By providing teachers with the training and resources, Wilson said the district hopes it will narrow the gaps in mastering science instruction as well as give students the opportunity to extend their learning.

She also said the district considered how the curriculum would benefit students as they transitioned into middle and high school, which led to a collaboration with the area Economic Development Authority to align career pathways with local industries and to help develop students’ workforce skills, hopefully leading them to choose a career within the community.

Christine Senters, a third-grade teacher at Bourbon Central Elementary, said she was impressed by the dual language features, which is critical for non-English speaking students.

Shauna Spencer, a third-grade teacher at North Middletown Elementary, said it “is like bringing science to life.”

“There is something for every type of learner,” she said.

In addition to having access to Discovery Education’s online learning platform, Bourbon County will receive tech books for its elementary students. The tech books drive engagement with exclusive, interactive digital content and companion printed resources.

The district will also have access to Mystery Science, which provides K-5 educators simple to use, hands-on lessons that inspire students to love science.

The Discovery Learning Science Program will kick off in Bourbon County elementary schools in the 2023-2024 school year.