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A. Fantis Parochial School Partners With Vanderbilt for Phenomenon-Based Learning Program

A. Fantis Parochial School Partners With Vanderbilt for Phenomenon-Based Learning Program

A. Fantis Parochial School, celebrating its 55th year, began working with Vanderbilt University in August 2018 to revamp its curriculum for students in kindergarten-eighth grade. The program, headed by Jennifer Ufnar, Ph.D., the executive director of the Center for Science Outreach and research assistant professor of education at Vanderbilt University, is projected to continue for the next 3-5 years and is focused on incorporating phenomenon-based learning to the school’s curriculum.

Phenomenon-based learning is an educational approach that places an emphasis on creative thinking, problem solving, and analysis inspired by real world problems and events. This holistic way of teaching allows for interdisciplinary study, extending beyond traditional STEM or even STEAM approaches to discovery.

Not only does this inspire curiosity, it also allows students to apply knowledge in unique ways to previously unrelated subjects. Each grade incorporates the program in different way, with younger grades receiving less frequent phenomenon-based classes and older grades receiving more frequent classes.

One such example of how this new learning approach is being applied is the ongoing Billion Oyster Project. “They have oysters in the classroom and they have oysters growing inside the river. They’re checking on them several times a year and they’re running observational analyses and experiments, while also learning about the history, reading, utilizing math,” says Theodore G. Tasoulas, principal of A. Fantis. “The focus with that would be how to repopulate the harbor with oysters.”

A. Fantis is located at 195 State St., Brooklyn. For more information about A. Fantis, call 718-624-0501 or visit

Image: The Billion Oyster Project is an example of the Phenomenon-Based learning approach, where students at A. Fantis check in on oysters growing in the classroom and conduct experiments while learning about the history of them, reading about them, and utilizing math.

Courtesy A. Fantis

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