School staff express need for more science classroom space |

School staff express need for more science classroom space

Lucy Capra explains her science fair project, "The Stages of Pin Mold," during a presentation in January at Soda Creek Elementary School.
Courtesy Photo

— Science teachers told the Steamboat Springs Board of Education Monday that, while the district has a robust science program, a lack of science classrooms complicates classes.

Steamboat Springs High School science teacher Beth Gravelle said that, with 746 students enrolled at the school, there are 809 students in a science class, meaning many students are taking two science classes at once or taking more than the three science classes required through high school.

“We are really excited about how many students are taking science,” she said.

The popularity of science in middle and high school highlights the district’s deficiencies in science classroom space, according to district Director of Teaching and Learning Marty Lamansky, who led a presentation on the district’s science programs.

The high school currently has five classrooms with dedicated science labs, but six science classes usually take place simultaneously, Lamansky said.

“One of the challenges we have with so many students wanting to take science, we are now in a situation where we don’t have enough science rooms for all the science classes. That hinders our ability to fully develop that program,” Lamansky said. “The good news is, we’ve got a lot of people that are into (science), but we have the same old issue there.”

A lack of science labs at the high school led to a science class being taught in the music room last year, and this year, some teachers are setting up labs while others are simultaneously conducting a class in the same room.

“Classroom teachers are setting up labs while another class is happening,” said Dennis Alt, Steamboat Springs High School vice principal.

Because science teachers are taking advantage of all available classroom time, science teachers aren’t able to meet together during the regular school day, Gravelle said.

“One of us is always in a room,” Gravelle said Monday. “This morning, we met before school, and department meetings are taking place outside of contract hours.”

Soda Creek Elementary second-grade teacher Cindy Gantick added that, in her school’s modular classrooms, fifth-grade teachers are forced to cart water in and out of the classroom when liquid is needed for a science assignment.

“It’s really challenging to stay focused on teaching kids,” Gantick said.

Board of Education member Sam Rush, who is also assistant dean of instruction at Colorado Mountain College, said the college faces the same issue with a lack of science classrooms.

Rush questioned whether a future partnership might include a facility both district students and CMC students could use.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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