Case Study 1 •
Case Study 2 •
Case Study 3 •
Case Study 4 •
Case Study 5
Case Study 6 •
Case Study 7
FOSS Implementation Case Study 3
74 elementary schools
32,079 students K6
1,150 teachers K6
I. CURRICULUM SELECTIONSpring Year 1
- The district relied on two documents for guidance in curriculum
evaluation: The state science framework called State Science
Essential Skills, and the district science framework, the
District Science Curriculum. Teachers contributed to the development
of both documents.
- A curriculum selection committee was formed, comprising
a cross section of teachers, administrators, and parents from
throughout the district. The committee examined and scored
all curriculum materials sent by publishers. Teachers were
given release time to complete the job.
- The committee presented the recommended (highest rated)
curricula to the district central administration and the school
board. FOSS was approved by the administration and adopted
by the board.
II. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT/STAFF DEVELOPMENT
The district goal for FOSS was that after 3 years every teacher
would use at least two FOSS modules a year, with a third module
optional (FOSS or GEMS). Phase II of the district plan was to
prepare every teacher to meet this minimum criterion. This phase
started by expanding the science implementation leadership in
A. Initiating Staff Development
- The district had one full-time elementary science curriculum
coordinator. Two new positions were established for elementary
science curriculum specialists.
- During the first year both specialists attended FOSS Leadership
Institutes with FOSS developers. Both spent days learning
the FOSS modules in detail and adding curriculum integration,
literature connections, and extensions appropriate for the
- The elementary science specialists started a bimonthly newsletter.
This would become an important communication tool throughout
the implementation process.
B. Summer and Fall Workshops Year 2 (Phase I modules)
Each of the 74 elementary schools selected
a science facilitator to represent the school during the science
implementation. These 74 facilitators and interested principals
attended 5 days of in-service in summer 1993. A large amount
of time during the 5 days was devoted to in-depth workshops
on the Phase I modules (one per grade level K6).
The first 2 days were in June with the FOSS developers. The
next 2 days were in July with a FOSS leadership consultant from
within the state and lead teachers from an NSF project who had
taught the FOSS modules in classrooms. The science facilitators
were introduced to all seven of the Phase I modules during these
first 4 days. At this point each facilitator dedicated his or
her life to one of the Phase I modules, vowing to teach it to
students, become expert in its content, and skilled at presenting
it to others.
The last day featured two activities. The
FOSS leadership consultant and the elementary science specialist
planned seven community-based field trips, one that related
to each of the Phase I modules. For example, third-grade teachers
using Ideas and Inventions went to the local police station
to see fingerprinting in action; fifth-grade teachers using
Landforms went with a geologist on a canyon field trip. In
the afternoon teachers distributed themselves in their module
groups for in-depth planning for classroom piloting they would
be doing in a few weeks.
Each facilitator was given a set of seven
Phase I FOSS teacher guides and other materials (such as GEMS
guides) for the professional resource library at each school.
Facilitators were encouraged to teach their
modules in their classrooms with on-site assistance from
the elementary science curriculum specialist.
Site meetings were held by facilitators to
introduce the new plan and new curriculum materials to the
staffs at their schools. Curriculum specialists also introduced
the new curriculum to school sites.
- In the second semester FOSS was implemented in four schools.
Interested teachers at other schools were also encouraged to
try a kit. Site facilitators were given release time to in-service
and assist colleagues.
Parent nights were hosted by facilitators
and elementary science curriculum specialists. Science specialists
shared the new curriculum and encouraged parents to try the
activities. Many questions were fielded concerning an adoption
C. Summer before Year 3 (Phase II modules)
- Professional development: Training was held for facilitators
from each school. Phase II kits (one per grade level K6)
were introduced by FOSS developers.
- Staff development: Curriculum specialists gave workshops
on Phase I kits for all interested teachers. Eisenhower funds
were used for staff development. These were full-day in-services
with lunch provided. The days were fun and inviting for the
- In the fall of year 3 the rotation of kits began. Each classroom
received a kit for 21 teaching days. (This has been determined
to be too short a time.) All 74 sites were included.
- Workshops by the district curriculum specialists continued.
Over two-thirds of the districts teachers were in-serviced
to use the Phase I modules by June in year 3.
D. Sustaining Staff Development and Implementation
- In the summer before year 4 the district conducted a users
conference for facilitators, principals, and all other interested
teachers. The day was planned and facilitated by the district
science specialists and the district science curriculum coordinators.
We shared experiences with FOSS, brainstormed ways to improve
the system, and had workshops on local resources that expand
and enhance the FOSS activities. Facilitators got to know
each other better and celebrated their successes.
- During year 4 the curriculum specialists and facilitators
presented workshops (12 days) covering Phase II modules.
- Staff development on Phase I and II modules, presented by
the district science specialists, continued throughout the
year. Principals, parents, and instructional aides were invited.
- Half-day principals workshops were conducted. Specialists
gave principals data on teachers' participation in FOSS workshops.
We discussed classroom management issues during hands-on science.
Also principals were encouraged to do teacher evaluations
during FOSS science.
- Working with school librarians, we developed extensive bibliographies
to go along with each module and distributed these to each
- We started workshops on mathematics integration.
We invested a lot of resources in staff development. We know
the investment is justified. If teachers didnt get an
in-service on a module, they didnt use it. The teachers
need to know that the program is based on real science and good
pedagogy, and they start to gain confidence in the program when
they participate in an in-service workshop.
III. MATERIALS MAINTENANCE
The district decided to use a centralized materials warehouse
system to manage and maintain the module kits. Kits are delivered
to teachers when they are needed and picked up and returned
to the warehouse for refurbishing before being delivered to
the next teacher. The warehouse is a 2700-square-foot section
of the district instructional resource center now called the
Science Resource Center (SRC). An additional 1500-square-feet
of warehouse storage is near the center and accessible by truck.
A. Housing the Materials
- The SRC is staffed by an office manager, materials center
coordinator, and materials manager.
- The SRC had to be outfitted with plenty of four-tiered adjustable
metal shelving and office space for the K12 science
staff development personnel. We also installed a commercial-grade
four-bin stainless-steel sink (cold water only) for cleaning
items during refurbishment.
- Staging areas (docks) for loading and unloading and temporary
holding are shared with other programs housed in this center
(i.e. library, fine arts, technology, and property control).
- All 74 elementary schools have access to the kits on an
assigned rotating basis. Some sixth-grade kits and optional
parts of some fourth- and fifth-grade kits are available for
teacher checkout on request.
B. Managing the Materials
The materials center coordinator is responsible for materials
procurement and management. His job description also includes
elementary science program documentation and evaluation, personnel
and physical facilities management, troubleshooting, coordination
of schedules, and administrative and community liaison. The
day-to-day ordering and accounting for materials and kit management
is conducted by a retired high school science teacher (half-time
salary). Adoption money from state funding supports this salary.
C. Inventory and Consumable Replacement
- The SRC conducts inventory and replaces items in kits after
each use. Consumable items are purchased in bulk and stored
at SRC until needed.
- SRC allocated 3 days for refurbishing kits before sending
them back out.
- Three half-time student workers (high school cooperative
education program) are mainly responsible for replacing both
consumable and permanent items in kits, supervised by SRC
personnel. Consumable replacement items are purchased out
of state adoption funds, approximately $20,000 a year in 2000.
- There is still a concern as to the most economical and efficient
way to provide the live organisms for our kits. We are in
the first or second year of operation for these modules, so
we need more experience. State adoption funds pay for the
Year 1: Local pet stores or biological supply company monthly
shipments to SRC
Year 2: Coupons through Delta to be redeemed by teachers
Year 1: Cultures at SRC, local pet stores
Year 1: Cultures at SRC, eggs from biological supply company,
limited quantities supplied by local university until we
develop reliable bulk sources
D. Checkout (rotation) System
- Each school site received FOSS kits two times during the
year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The district
has designed two units for each grade level. Each classroom
teacher at the site received his or her own kit. All classrooms
at the site receive delivery on the same date.
- Kits remain for 21 school days and are picked up and returned
to SRC. Teachers are strongly recommending that this time
period be extended (and the FOSS developers concur). This
will require finding additional funds to increase the pool
of kits. Since SRC is responsible for both delivery and pickup
of the kits at 74 sites, all kits are returned at one time.
This eliminates most "overdue" kits. Overdue or
missing items are sometimes returned in regular school mail
or by teacher delivery, depending on size of item and urgency
So far there have been only a few safety questions from FOSS
users. Some teachers had questions about citric acid (Mixtures
and Solutions Module). They wanted to know about
precautions for use (Should students wear goggles? How do you
clean up spills? etc.). We have also had inquiries about the
use of diatomaceous earth around people wearing contact lenses.
F. Special Notes on Refurbishing Kits
- As kits are brought into SRC, they are sorted by grade.
When a module has two drawers, the two drawers from the same
teacher are stacked together to facilitate inspection of the
drawers, because sometimes the contents of the drawers are
- The drawer or drawers are placed on a work table. The packing
list is located. (If the teacher didnt return the packing
list, a new one is obtained.)
- If the teacher has filled in the packing list, a quick inspection
with a few spot checks is made to determine the accuracy of
the inventory. If the teacher did not fill in the packing
list, the person refurbishing the kit does a complete inventory
to determine shortages.
- The difference between the number of items sent out and
the number returned is noted on the list.
- The replacement items are located on the shelves in the
same alphabetical order as on the packing list. The replacement
items for each module are lined up along a set of shelves,
and each item is labeled as to what it is and which kit it
goes into. The labels for each module are on different-colored
paper to speed up recognition.
- The person restocking the kit takes the packing list with
the shortages noted, moves down the appropriate aisle with
a cart, and collects the needed items.
- The kit is repacked and placed in the area with the rest
of the kits ready to be shipped out to schools.
- The sand trays from the Landforms Module
are inspected. If the sand mixture is wet and caked, the sand
is dumped into a box with slightly moist sand mixture, mixed
with the materials in the box, and measured out into the trays
again. If the sand mixture is sufficiently dry, additional
sand mixture is added to bring the tray up to the amount needed.
The trays are packaged in sets of eight in large plastic garbage
- A database keeps track of items missing from kits. The office
manager contacts the schools and requests the missing items
be returned as soon as possible. If missing items are not
recovered, the school is charged with replacement costs.
- A database also records materials on hand and materials
used. This inventory is used to order replacement supplies.
G. Special Notes on Preparation of Kits for Delivery
- The office manager prepares delivery destination tickets
Each school set is printed on different-colored paper to help
- These tickets are placed in vinyl pockets on all of the
drawers and support kits (including bus trays, basin sets,
and food bags). Food bags are picked up from Food Services
according to previous arrangements for bag contents and delivery
- As kits accumulate in the shipping area and tickets are
inserted, a delivery ticket is filled out noting the kit numbers
for each drawer, the numbers on the support kits (if any),
and the number of bus trays and trays of sand that accompany
- If the module has laser discs as part of its presentation,
these laser discs are brought from the A-V room. The laser
discs are stored in labeled bags along with the appropriate
software to be delivered to the school librarian. The numbers
on the laser discs are noted on the delivery ticket.
- The officer manager prepares a letter of instructions to
be included for all first-time users. That letter is stapled
to a packing list that is included in each kit. This packing
list is an inventory of the kit contents. The teacher is expected
to fill in the list prior to returning the kit, indicating
the materials used. This enables the SRC to replenish the
kit in the shortest time possible and have it ready to ship
out to another school.
- The completed delivery ticket is duplicated so the delivery
person will have a signed copy to check against when returning
to pick up the kits. The duplicate is left with the school
contact person so the pickup will be complete and correct
when the delivery person arrives to pick up the kits.
- A letter of information for the school principal and a letter
of information for the school librarian are prepared to be
delivered with the kits.
- Any additional information sheets appropriate to any kit
are inserted in the kit along with the packing list.
- Science has been placed in the spotlight many times during
curriculum nights at board meetings. The science curriculum
is featured in all district informational pamphlets.
- We offer special half-day workshops for principals to get
them involved in the science activities. We can then communicate
more effectively with them about the participation of their
teachers in workshops and in their classrooms.
- Parents are mainly informed through meetings and science
nights at the schools.
- Teachers are encouraged to send the FOSS letter home to
- Financial support has been primarily district and Eisenhower
funds. A few merchants have donated textiles for Fabric. A
local surgeon donates unused tubs for the kits (a great way
- Technology hardware and some software were purchased with
part of a bond.
- We are currently seeking corporate sponsorship.
- We are developing an advisory board.