Saturday Science Academy
An intensive, hands-on math and science enrichment
experience for middle school students
The ACCESS Centers Saturday Science Academy (SSA) is a 10-week
math and science program held three times during the academic
year aimed at underrepresented middle school students in Long
Beach. The Academy offers an intensive experience focusing on
the curricular areas of mathematics, scientific inquiry, hands-on
science, computer application, and creative expression.
The goal of the SSA is to improve the cognitive skills of students
in science, math, and creative expression, and to raise the level
of excellence and standards of student performance in these areas.
SSA also seeks to prepare young people for college by providing
a strong foundation for entering high school. The program is designed
to address the problem of poor math and science skills, and reverse
the downward spiral of college-going rates among low-income and
minority students. Through the proposed program, ACCESS has created
a math and science environment which provides hands-on science
experiences which enable students to increase their comfort level
and develop a facility in mathematics. This fundamental preparation
will then help them to succeed in higher level math and science
Specific Objectives are designed to:
1. Increase math scores as measured by pre and post written math
tests at the 7th grade level.
2. Increase the number of students who enroll in and successfully
complete algebra as a precursor to more advanced high school
college preparatory math sequences.
3. Increase the level of comfort with science lab work in the
natural and physical sciences.
4. Develop and reinforce reasoning, and effective oral and written
5. Increase parental involvement in their child's math and science
education by participating in "rap" sessions to discuss
subjects such as student motivation and achievement.
6. Develop computer skills (including use of spreadsheets, data
bases, word processing and graphing ).
Curricular and Disciplinary Focus
The curricular focus of SSA is designed to:
1. Develop the students ability to think and communicate in the
language of mathematics.
2. Facilitate experiential learning through self-discovery by
doing science, rather than by reading about it.
3. Enrich the students lives by exposing them to the systematic
way of investigating the natural world through the study of the
4. Present the study of mathematics, engineering and science
as a viable career path for the underrepresented student.
Science Themes: Health, The Environment, Water & Power,
The classroom activities of SSA concentrate on the themes of Health
Science, Water & Power, The Environment and Space Discovery.
Themes are important in the learning of science because they
are important in the doing of science. Facts collected and categorized
are useful only when tied to major theoretical questions of the
natural world - why it works and how its
parts fit together.
With an integrative and thematic approach to learning, SSA students
not only develop a framework for understanding science but also
ways in which to approach problems in other disciplines as well
as in their lives as citizens, consumers and workers. The content
includes 1) Knowing about science as inquiry; 2) Conducting scientific
inquiries; and 3) Developing the skills and thought processes
associated with inquiry.
Mathematics: The Algebra Project
Mathematics continues to be the critical filter that eliminates
underrepresented minority students from careers in science, engineering
and mathematics (SEM) and algebra acts as a "gatekeeper"
to the college preparatory sequence. The Robert Moses Algebra
Project is used to teach pre-algebra to SSA students. The 5-step
curricular process used in the Algebra Project addresses the conceptual
shift from arithmetic to algebraic thinking. The mathematics
instruction supports the science content of the academy by relating
the math concepts to science themes.
Computer Assisted Instruction
Word processing skills are taught to enable students to write
and edit their observations in their algebra, science and creative
expression classes. Computerized daily journals are kept and
creative writing exercises designed to teach the students to express
their everyday observations and opinions are assigned. Data
base and spreadsheet skills simplify the tasks of the data collection
and analysis. Graphic programs are taught to enable students
to illustrate their writing with graphs and diagrams.
A variety of field trips are offered during SSA to emphasize the
many ways that math and science interact to support, promote and
advance the needs and goals of our society. Wherever possible,
the academy will use the vast resources of public and private
connections that the ACCESS Center has developed to provide role
models and counseling to the students. Examples of these trips
are visits to:
1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
2. Griffith Park Observatory.
3. California Museum of Science and Industry.
4. California State University Marine Biology and Sciences Collection
5. Science & Technology based industries (McDonnell Douglas,
Department of Water and Power, California Department
of Transportation, Southern California Edison).
6. Defense Installations (Long Beach Naval Base, Seal Beach
PLAN FOR PROJECT EVALUATION
The SSA is a unique program that can be replicated in other urban
areas in the country. To further our understanding about the
implementation and effectiveness of the program, a detailed process
and outcome evaluation is being conducted as an integral part
of the SSA program. The prime objectives of the evaluation components
are as follows:
1. To monitor and describe all program components and activities
in sufficient detail to allow for replication in similar settings.
2. To provide administrators with prompt feedback of preliminary
and formative evaluation results to determine if adequate progress
is being made toward the project goals and how to modify the
program to improve effectiveness.
3. To determine the impact of program activities on the stated