Kindergarten students learn about the states of matter

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.

Cassandra Muse, Center Elementary School Chelmsford, MA

When Cassandra Muse was young, she struggled in school, but in fifth grade an inspiring teacher helped turn that around. “Mrs. Jutras was different than any teacher,” she recalls fondly. “She went out of her way to get to know her students on a personal basis, while creating positive relationships with each one. She spent her prep time building their self esteem in their academic abilities, and always found an engaging way to teach all types of learners.”

Teacher Ambassador Cassandra Muse

She knew from that point on that she wanted to teach elementary students, too. Cassandra now teaches kindergartners and learned about the Sensing Science project from a colleague across the hall. The project is developing and researching a curriculum supporting early science learning of concepts involving matter and its changes.

Cassandra’s young students use iPads to watch “The Flying Zippies,” a whimsical online story designed to teach about particles changing states when the ambient air is heated. From time to time the virtual narrator asks questions—such as “Will tilting the Zippies in their cart make the Zippies separate?”—and pauses for the children to talk with a partner. Afterwards, “My students were able to explain solid to liquid to gas,” she explains.

She remembers her first year using the program. Her students were engaged, enjoying both the hands-on activities and the technology, though one student had a particularly difficult time staying on task. When she reviewed all the concepts at the end of the unit, however, he raised his hand quietly and knew all the answers. Cassandra beams, “The self confidence in his academic skills and the smile on his face is something I will never forget.”

This will be her third year teaching with the Sensing Science curriculum, and she’ll have the sibling of one of her earlier students in class. “The parents were extremely excited that their other child will be able to learn from the same program as their son did two years ago,” she notes.

In her spare time, Cassandra has played soccer with her twin sister since they were three years old, most recently in a local co-ed league. But she stopped playing last year in order to pursue a master’s degree in Moderate Disabilities PreK-8. She hopes to inspire all learners, just like her fifth grade teacher.

Favorite ice cream: Black raspberry