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posted: 12/13/2013 2:18 PM

Book highlights work of Streamwood H.S. teacher's worm farm unit

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  • Greg Reiva of Algonquin, a physical science teacher at Streamwood High School, brought the worm farms and hydroponic garden from his classroom home to tend last summer.

       Greg Reiva of Algonquin, a physical science teacher at Streamwood High School, brought the worm farms and hydroponic garden from his classroom home to tend last summer.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer June 2013

  • Red worms consume scraps of food in Greg Reiva's worm farm.

       Red worms consume scraps of food in Greg Reiva's worm farm.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
Submitted by District 46

Streamwood High School Science Teacher Greg Reiva's engaging worm farm classroom projects are highlighted in a new book called "Enhancing Adolescents' Motivation for Science: Research-Based Strategies for Teaching Male and Female Students."

Written by Northern Illinois University professors of educational psychology Lee Shumow and Jennifer A. Schmidt, the book includes a Science in the Moment Project (SciMo) that analyzes the classroom scenarios of Reiva and 11 other science teachers and their students.

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"I'm very excited that our worm farm project is being used as a case study to determine what motivates students to get engaged in science," said Reiva, an Algonquin resident.

"I've found that students are exceptionally more inspired when they can see the impact of what they're learning. Our worm farm project allows students to study the physical aspects of soil, produce fertilizer, grow crops, and study how different variations of light and soil impact the nutrition of their food."

The book is part of The Empowering Teachers to Enhance Adolescents' Motivation for Science (E-TEAMS) project which also includes supporting resources like handouts, reading materials, web links and video clips of teaching practices. Reiva's videos can be found online at niu.edu/eteams/video/greg.shtml

Students in Reiva's physical science and chemistry courses become his worm farm experts, managing the health of the worms, brewing rich organic fertilizer, analyzing vermicompost, growing basil, spinach, and tomatoes, and testing their hypotheses with hands-on experiments. In this project-based learning experience, students even use electricity produced from Streamwood High School's solar panels to help power the lights of the organic farm houses in the classroom.

"Greg's engaging projects are just the type of relevant and challenging instruction that all U-46 teachers strive to provide," said Superintendent Josť Torres. "There's no doubt that students will develop deeper critical thinking skills if they're doing the work and if they're seeing the end result of the theories applied in the lab."

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