Materials Management

Materials Management  |  Replacement List  |  Plant and Animal Care  |  Organism Source

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.

  1. Housing the materials
    Where will the materials be kept?
    • School site (individual classrooms, teacher workroom)
    • Off school site, central location (district or collaborative)
  2. Managing the materials
    Who will be in charge of the materials?
    • Staffing (teachers, paid clerk or school aide, volunteers, seniors from the community, students from continuation high school class)
    How will the kits be prepared for use?
    • Initial preparation of kits (teachers, paid clerk, volunteers)
    • Science notebook sheets (already prepared in student booklets, copied as needed by teacher, or consumable notebooks)
    • Teacher-supplied items (petty-cash budget, packaged with kit)
    • Teacher Toolkits (each teacher has his/her own copy, available in kit only, or available in kit and additional copy in professional library)
    • FOSS Science Resources books and trade books (with each kit or on a cart in the library)
  3. Inventory and consummable replacement
    What is the inventory and replacement process?
    • Refill kits from Delta Education
    • Bulk materials purchases with site-based responsibility
    How is the inventory and replacement handled?
    • Done at school by teachers or other individuals (each kit user, one teacher doing all the inventory, one clerical person, or a volunteer)
    • Central order goes to district
    • Done at school by district (paid clerk, student workers, volunteers)
    • Done at district central site (paid clerk, volunteers)
  4. Checkout (rotation) system
    What type of checkout system is being used?
      New system or existing (key components of system)
    • Which kits at which grade level Frequency of rotation
  5. Safety
    Are there any problems or concerns regarding safety?