Research-Based Science Curriculum Tailored for Special Education Schools

The Laurel School of Princeton is a leader among special education schools, utilizing an active, research-based approach through our science curriculum. We serve the Princeton, NJ metros areas, as well as those searching for a special needs school all throughout New Jersey. We are a special education school focused on helping students with learning disabilities. We employ the latest teaching methods for dyslexia, and we incorporate the latest technology into all of our educational programs.

TRoller-Coaster-1he Laurel School approach to science intertwines disciplinary core ideas (content), scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts (big ideas), in keeping with the ideals of the recently released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards are a nation-wide, research-based, voluntary set of standards based on A Framework for K–12 Science Education, released by the National Research Council in 2011. While the content is in keeping with the 2009 NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards, the NGSS and our science program are designed to give our students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college-ready life-long learners, and prepared for careers of the future, some of which may not yet exist! Our goal is to have our students learn and think like scientists, and to become excellent problem solvers. Because we “dig deep” and thoroughly explore the content, our students are able to make important connections between the multiple science disciplines, as well as between science and other content areas.

Our program emphasizes that science is both a body of knowledge and an evidence-based, model-building enterprise that continually extends, refines, and revises knowledge. Students are active participants in scientific exploration; formulating questions, using measurement and observation tools obtain data and uncover patterns, evaluating data, categorizing information, communicating findings, interpreting the natural and designed world, creating models, and engaging in scientific argument and discussion. Field trips to reinforce concepts in a real world situation are also planned yearly.

Topics are taught at an age-appropriate level that builds on prior knowledge and integrates new information to make meaningful connections. Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Sciences, and Environmental Science are covered in each year of the program.

Examples of our recent work include:

  • Creating a “human block and tackle” for a multisensory demonstration of mechanical advantage
  • Building anemometers and learning how they work, making clouds in a jar, and demonstrating the states of matter using water as an example during our weather unit
  • Exploring and calculating “how high can you jump on planet X” and figuring out on our own what factors must determine surface gravity during our unit on the Earth in Space
  • Tracking shadows with a shadow stick, then modeling those shadows indoors with a flashlight to understand the “reason for the seasons.” Integrating our findings with a cross-curricular LA activity on “ancient skywatchers”
  • Exploring basic chemical reactions to rescue a submerged cell phone in an activity called “CO2 to the Rescue”
  • Understanding the behavior of gases using hot and cold balloons, “exploding” ivory soap, and lots of other fun hands-on demos
  • Making our own dirt for our gardening activities by recycling table scraps with our colony of red wiggler worms

Roller Coaster Physics

Conservation of energy. Potential energy = mgh. Kinetic energy= ½ mv2. Friction. G-force. Engineering practices. What better way to reinforce these concepts than with a hands-on, cross-curricular unit assessment? Let’s design and build a roller coaster! Who says a final unit test can’t be fun?

Our upper school students recently planned, designed, and built a “Marble Coaster” that required them to apply the fundamental laws of physics, while also practicing their skills of planning, teamwork, and troubleshooting, to meet the design requirements without endangering our marble “passengers.” After some smaller scale prototypes were built to test out ideas, we took the fun outside to build the “big one” with a little structural support from our playground equipment. The final product contained loops, hills, and corkscrews on a 600cm track!

For the finishing touch, our students wrote a coaster “spec sheet,” gave their creation a catchy name and theme, and created a press release to advertise their new amusement park attraction to the world.

For more information, schedule a visit at The Laurel School of Princeton today and get a glimpse of our innovative science program. Our curriculum focuses on our unique students, and we continually strive to provide the best education among special education schools. Contact us to learn more.


The Laurel School of Princeton
75 Mapleton Road, Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: 609-566-6000 • Fax: 609-356-1700

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