Giving young students opportunities to explore

The Concord Consortium’s Teacher Ambassador program commemorates our 25th anniversary by recognizing 25 outstanding teachers who have included our digital inquiry resources into their STEM classrooms. We congratulate them on their innovation and creativity.

Laura Bentley, Center Elementary, Chelmsford, MA

“Mrs. Bentley, how are you so smart?,” asked one of the kindergarten students in Laura Bentley’s class. Although she was embarrassed by the adoring question from this five-year-old, she knew that she was instilling a love of learning in her students.

This incident took place while Laura was being videotaped during a lesson she was teaching for the Sensing Science Through Modeling Matter project. The curriculum is designed for kindergarten students to learn about matter and its changes, and includes interactive online stories, simple experiments with easy-to-use temperature probes, and web-based models that make the invisible world of molecules visible.

Students have many “aha!” moments in her class—like the time she overheard a pair of students talking about the experiment they were doing. She describes it further, beaming with pride: “The two students bounced ideas off each other and with no prompting questions from me they were able to successfully describe the process that we were exploring.”

Teacher Ambassador Laura Bentley

Laura has also been inspired by the Concord Consortium materials, which allow her to be creative in the way she teaches. She gushes, “It’s so rewarding to see students understand these complex ideas. It also puts into perspective just how much these students are able to learn and understand when given the opportunity!”

It’s not just the technology and manipulatives that are changing education, she says, but the fact that students are given more opportunities to explore on their own and find answers with their peers. She is constantly innovating and looking for new ideas and resources to implement novel explorations into her classroom.

Laura loves teaching kindergartners because she gets to see how these young children grow both academically and socially in such a short span of time. She enthuses, “Being part of this process is so special!”

While she would love to stay at a tropical island with her family, she has had the chance to spend two weeks traveling throughout Italy with her husband. She’s also quite content to stay close to home in her garden, nurturing new growth, just as in her classroom.

Favorite ice cream: Chocolate chip