Materials management is a key element that often makes or breaks a district's success at implementing a hands-on, materials-based program. The districts we outline in our case-studies all use some type of materials management system that is well-designed, planned as part of the comprehensive adoption strategy, teacher-friendly, and operated by an individual or team (depending on the size of the system) whose sole responsibility is to stock, distribute, and replenish the FOSS kits. Computer inventory and routing systems are often used.
The most successful materials management systems rotate the kits, usually every 9-10 weeks, and allow 1 week of turnaround time prior to shipping the kits to the next scheduled site. Kits are often transported to and from a central kit refurbishment center. During that time, the materials manager inventories the incoming kit, restocks it with any needed consumables, replaces any worn or broken nonconsumables, and tags it for the next shipping location.
There are some districts that maintain their own "crops" of live organisms for the FOSS life science modules, while others rely on the teachers to use the live organism coupons to order the critters as needed or to purchase them locally. Some districts set up accounts at local pet shops that provide the needed organisms. (Refer to the Sources of Organisms for the FOSS Life Science Modules.)
Some districts use the refill packages (available from Delta) to make the replenishment job hassle-free, especially small districts and those districts just starting implementation. The majority of the case-study districts purchase consumables in bulk from Delta and from local suppliers to replenish their kits. The average cost for refurbishing a kit can vary greatly depending on the system used.
FOSS users can take advantage of a kit scheduling and replenishment service called the Delta Science Resource Service. Delta Education will pick up your used kits and deliver replenished kits to your school based on a predetermined teaching and rotation schedule.
The "teacher-ready" kits will arrive with many materials already prepped, many teacher-provided items included, and living material shipments automatically scheduled. Teachers receive email alerts to notify them of scheduled kit pick-up and delivery dates. To learn more, contact your Delta Education professional or watch this video introducing the service.
Materials Management Considerations
Here are some basic questions in five areas to consider as you plan the FOSS materials management system for your implementation.