By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Rashid, a first grader likes school. He also likes chicks, although holding them frightened him. But GeoKids LINKS changed all that.

The program, now celebrating its 20th year, was developed by the Wagner Free Institute of Science and St. Joseph’s University, both in Philadelphia, with units in grades 1-5, offering a ninety minute weekly lesson in four North Philadelphia schools. Each class incubates and hatches chicks in its room observing and learning how to care for them.

In second grade, students learn that weather is a system – that has a yearly cycle. They make pinwheels, use anemometers to measure wind speed and direction. Lessons on mineral testing, raising and observing crayfish, wetland and woodlands are supplemented by field trips to museums and natural sites including a working farm.

GeoKids LINKS is starting kids early, learning through STEM projects — science technology, electronics and math. Watching their participation helps one believe that American kids will catch up to their global peers.

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