By JUDY SHERARD
A partnership between Hays USD 489 and Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History could be in the offing.
Reese Barrick, Sternberg director, and David Levering, Sternberg education director, proposed the partnership at Monday night's board of education meeting.
USD 489 staff has been working with Barrick and Levering to make the transition to the next generation of science standards smooth, said Lee Keffer, Roosevelt Elementary School principal and USD 489 science committee chairman.
Barrick said when he became the director five years ago, most of the museum's science program was outreach and staffed by volunteers.
He created interactive and in-depth programs, tours and activities using the museum's professional staff.
Of the 1,300 to 1,600 students who come to the museum annually, 300 to 450 of those are from USD 489, he said.
"Now that we have really good programs, we can increase the impact the museum can have on NGSS, (and there's) a lot of ways in which we can fit into advancing that cause," Barrick said.
The museum offers a number of activities in addition to the "world class natural history collections," Levering said.
For instance, the Howard Reynolds nature trail is an outside classroom with multiple ecosystems, the discovery room's live animal exhibit lets kids get up-close and personal with the animals, and cretaceous dioramas bring fossils to life in the evolution of plants and animals.
The activities, three for each grade segment -- K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 -- should be ready in the fall.
The partnership can reduce costs because the museum staff will know how many students to plan for.
"It makes everything more efficient (and) more effective for the district. (It) gets a much larger number of students involved in these activities," Barrick said.