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GEMS is a leading resource for innovative science and mathematics education. Developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, the public science education center at the University of California at Berkeley, and tested in thousands of classrooms nationwide, over 70 GEMS Teacher's Guides and Handbooks offer a wide range of supplementary learning experiences for preschool through 8th grade.
GEMS activities engage students in direct experience and experimentation to introduce essential, standards-based principles and concepts. Clear step-by-step instructions enable all teachers to be successful presenting the activities. GEMS units offer effective, practical, economical, and schedule-friendly ways to provide high-quality science and math learning to all students.
GEMS Teacher's Guides
GEMS Teacher's Guides are clearly organized, easy to use, and do not require special background in math or science. Each classroom session is outlined with an overview, materials list, and preparation requirements, followed by clear, step-by-step directions. Complete background information is provided for the teacher, along with photographs, illustrations, and often examples of student work. Throughout each guide there are comments on presentation strategies and practical advice to help the teacher, many of them suggested by teachers who tested the units.
GEMS Development and Testing Process
GEMS units are subject to rigorous local and national field testing. Initially, activities are mined from the enormous wealth of classes and programs developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science over the last 30 years. GEMS authors begin by testing potential units of activities in local classrooms. After these early classroom tests, the activities are revised by a group of curriculum developers. The unit is then typically classroom tested by 25 local teachers in diverse urban and rural settings. Feedback from the local trials is used to again revise the unit. Next, a National Trial Version is sent to sites across the country for a third round of testing. The data from these national trials is compiled and final revisions are made to the teacher's guide. Even after publication, GEMS units are revised and updated to incorporate feedback as more teachers use them in the field.
GEMS units are widely known to be engaging and motivating for students. One of the central goals in the development and testing process is to maximize the interest and participation of all students. Captivating the imagination of students by challenging them is a strong emphasis of the GEMS approach. Students come away feeling that they can be successful at math and science. High student interest increases the quality of their learning and the likelihood that they will continue to study science.
All Teachers Can Be Successful with GEMS
The extensive classroom testing and review process deepens the educational content of each unit and ensures that all teachers can be successful presenting the activities. Due to their accessibility and rich content, GEMS units serve as exemplars to teachers, encouraging them to incorporate more inquiry-based learning into their teaching. GEMS units are frequently used as models in preservice and educational methods courses.
GEMS Activities Utilize Readily Accessible Materials Most of the materials needed for GEMS units are everyday materials that can be either collected or purchased inexpensively. Certain materials can also be ordered from sources whose names and addresses are listed in the guides. All of the GEMS guides include session-by-session listings of materials required. In addition GEMS has published the GEMS Kit Builder's Handbook to assist teachers in kit-building and maintenance.