What Schools Say

Why the best schools use Science Bits

Amber Richards
Amber Richards

Eton Elementary, Georgia (USA)

Amber Richards is a successful and much–loved science teacher and mother of two from Georgia, Atlanta. She has more than 15 years of experience as a science teacher in grades K-8 in charter and public schools and currently leads her school, Eton Elementary, in a STEAM initiative. We talked to her about her school, students, and how she teaches science.

Can you introduce yourself?

I am the current Art teacher in charge of building my school’s STEAM program. I teach art and science in K-6 classrooms; my background has always been science education for grades K-8, and I am in my 14th year of teaching.

What’s the name of your school?

Eton Elementary, Murray County school district, Georgia, US.

Can you tell us something important about Eton Elementary?

The most important thing about my school is the teamwork mentality and the dedication to serving the students to the best of our abilities. Eton is different because they seek out strengths and share them to make things better.

How many students do you have?

I have over 400 students in grades K-6 in total, but my typical science class has 25 students.

Do any of your students have special needs?

Yes, we have quite a few ESL students. I am always amazed at how much progress they make in science compared to other subjects, and I contribute much of that to Science Bits.
What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in science class?

The funniest thing was when I tried pretending not to know how to get an answer so the students would be forced to work it out on their own based on the key, and I did such a good job pretending that I completely forgot how to actually do it. I struggled for 2 class periods before a student finally remembered what I had previously told them about measuring volume!

How did you discover Science Bits?

I found Science Bits through a district trial that was brought to us by the central office admin. I don’t know how they found it, but I haven’t let it go since!

What do you most like about Science Bits?

Science Bits was everything I was trying to do but better—it chunked the information perfectly, it had tons of interactives, and I loved all the digital labs. It was—is—a perfect 3E/5E setup!

What difference does it make to you or your students in your classroom?

Science Bits made my life a lot easier because it took away all the researching, planning, piecing together of resources, and searching for interactives to support the lessons—85% of what I needed and wanted was already included!

Was it easy to start using Science Bits? Did you have any challenges?

There was certainly a learning curve because students have never worked that way before, building piece by piece to a culmination they actually grasp. The amount of independent work was a surprise to them because they were so used to getting a worksheet to do.

I demanded they work with me through the content but answer on their own, especially pencil tasks. The amount of effort required is what most students had to get used to, but once they were used to learning with me, they all began to love Science Bits.

How do you use Science Bits in your classroom?

I usually stick to the 3E with a modified Elaborate and Evaluate. If I have time, I use the full 5E.

Have you used Science Bits to teach students using remote learning, hybrid instruction, or flipped classrooms?

Yes—I have used Science Bits on distance learning days. It worked as a flipped classroom in which students did the reading at home then did questions/tasks with me at school.
I have also used Science Bits for digital learning, but had to adapt Google documents to accompany it as a guide.

What are the things you would recommend to other teachers about Science Bits?

First, don’t skip the Engage or Explore—they are crucial. Second, don’t leave the kids alone to work through the content; discuss everything with them, not for them. Third, include as many hands-on support activities as you can to support or extend the labs in Science Bits. Encourage rigor more than recall.

Would you ever willingly go back to a textbook again? Why or why not?

I don’t think I will ever go back to a textbook because I have never found one that is properly chunked and paired with hands-on activities or interactives. Even before I found Science Bits, I preferred creating my own content lessons as opposed to using a textbook.

What would you say to a teacher looking for a Middle School science solution?

If you’re looking for something that will help you teach, inspire, and motivate students to learn science, then Science Bits is your best partner. In 14 years, I have found nothing better!