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  • When I look at science education,

  • I see a divide.

  • I see a divide between

  • doing science

  • and learning science.

  • And now if you're a kid in that system of education,

  • and you want to do science,

  • you want to do authentic research,

  • you may have to wait a long time for that

  • because the first moment

  • in our system of science education

  • where we universally expect students to do science

  • often doesn't come until graduate school.

  • And this is what sets up the divide.

  • It sets up a divide between teachers and scientists,

  • and it sets up a divide in general

  • between learning science and doing science.

  • But I think we can overcome this divide

  • if teachers and scientists work together.

  • And I think teachers are uniquely positioned

  • to reach out to scientists

  • and make this happen.

  • In my own classroom,

  • I've had some success with this model.

  • And so I'd like to use my own experiences

  • to kind of illustrate

  • how an individual teacher can reach out to scientists

  • and make more science happen in their classrooms.

  • I had the opportunity to develop

  • my own professional development program

  • in the summer through an organization

  • called Fund for Teachers.

  • The way they work is they're kind of like

  • venture capitalists for educators.

  • You go to them with an idea and you say,

  • 'Hey, this is going to make me a better teacher.

  • This is going to help my students learn.'

  • And if they like your idea and they're able,

  • they fund it, and they make that idea happen for you.

  • So, the idea that I pitched to them

  • was an idea that would get me doing more science

  • because that was important to me.

  • But it was also important to me

  • that I do it in such a way

  • that it would capture the imagination of my students.

  • So, the idea that I pitched to them

  • was a thousand-mile expedition on the Mississippi River

  • to gather data on nutrient pollution.

  • And for 27 days that summer,

  • I was immersed in the process of doing science

  • on one of the mightiest rivers on the planet.

  • When we would come ashore,

  • after paddling six to ten hours a day,

  • we would set up a temporary lab,

  • and we'd conduct water tests.

  • In prepping for this,

  • I quickly realized how poorly my own education

  • had prepared me to do science

  • of this nature and of this scope.

  • So, what I did was I reached out to experts.

  • I just simply looked through journals,

  • and I found who was the leading experts

  • in nutrient pollution in major rivers,

  • and I started firing off emails with questions.

  • And I was astounded at the responses I got.

  • Scientists responded thoroughly,

  • and they were genuinely interested

  • in helping me do better science.

  • So, I kind of put that information in my back pocket

  • that professional scientists were a resource

  • that I could draw from.

  • When I went back to my classroom in the fall,

  • my students were able to use the same methods

  • that I had learned in the summer

  • on a river in their own back yard, the Chicago River,

  • to do real science.

  • And I could see this breakdown of the barrier

  • between doing science and learning science,

  • and it was happening in my classroom,

  • and I wanted more of it.

  • So, the next summer, I reached out to scientists again.

  • And I pretty quickly came across

  • an evolutionary ecology lab at Iowa State.

  • And they shared my philosophy

  • that there should be no separation

  • between doing science and learning science.

  • They worked on turtle reproduction,

  • specifically how climate change

  • affects the evolution of turtle reproductive behavior,

  • and they worked on an island in the Mississippi River.

  • So, I was thrilled again to be out

  • on the river for another summer.

  • But, because they shared my believes on education,

  • we were able to bring high school students out there

  • for two weeks at a time

  • and turn them loose

  • on their own authentic research projects

  • on the biology of turtles,

  • snakes,

  • lizards.

  • And, in that experience,

  • working side by side with people

  • at all different stages of their academic career,

  • we had the high school students working beside undergrads,

  • working beside graduate students,

  • working beside professionals.

  • I left that experience absolutely convinced

  • that this is the right way to teach science,

  • with no separation between doing science

  • and learning science.

  • I continued to keep up my relationships

  • with these scientists,

  • and I got to the point where I wanted to try something new,

  • something that hadn't been done before.

  • I wanted to bring those kinds of science experiences

  • that we were having with kids out at the river,

  • and I wanted to put those into our classroom.

  • And it was important to me

  • that it wasn't simply a one-off

  • or a one-day special field trip.

  • I wanted this kind of science

  • to be a part of the everyday science curriculum

  • for an entire school year.

  • So, as we were thinking of this,

  • in planning for how we could make this happen realistically,

  • we reached out to the National Science Foundation,

  • and we applied to a Research Experience for Teachers grant,

  • or the RET.

  • And now, teachers have to partner

  • with a researcher who is already supported by the NSF

  • to apply for this grant,

  • but I think that just gives you one more great excuse

  • to partner with a scientist.

  • And what we did is we used our NSF funding

  • to travel down to Florida,

  • with the permission of the state Florida

  • catch a bunch of lizards,

  • and FedEx them back to my classroom in Chicago

  • where we had set-up a functioning, live animal lab.

  • So, when my students came to school

  • for the first day in September,

  • they immediately began work on a scientific experiment

  • that would answer a very specific question.

  • Our question was,

  • "How do females make choices when they lay eggs?

  • How do they choose a nest site?

  • And what effect does that choice have on their offspring?"

  • And, by the end of the year,

  • they had generated data

  • and performed science that answered that question.

  • And I was extremely happy

  • when our work was recently published

  • in the January edition of Behavioral Ecology.

  • And, to my knowledge, this is the first time

  • that work conducted as part

  • of a normal high school curriculum

  • resulted in a peer-reviewed paper.

  • So, I have three pieces of advice

  • for teachers who want to make these connections

  • with scientists and want to blur the line

  • between doing science and learning science.

  • Number 1,

  • look out for those great resources that are out there.

  • Apply for an RET grant,

  • apply for a Fund for Teachers fellowship.

  • I know what a difference those resources can make.

  • And there's more resources available locally,

  • and you should look for those, too

  • because they can influence the amount

  • that you are able to accomplish. I know that.

  • However, my number 2 piece of advice is

  • don't let a lack of resources stop you

  • from making those connections with professional science.

  • Reach out to a scientist today,

  • no matter what your resource level is.

  • You can start small.

  • Invite a scientist in for a talk.

  • Set up a Skype chat between a scientist and their lab.

  • Then, maybe you can move up to

  • more large-scale project-based learning.

  • But, whatever you do,

  • make sure that you're forming these partnerships

  • with people who do science for a living.

  • And my third point acknowledges

  • some of the realities that teachers are facing today.

  • I know that the pressure of high-stakes testing

  • and the climate that creates

  • can make it feel almost a little bit subversive

  • to deviate from the standard curriculum.

  • So, my final piece of advice is

  • be a bit subversive if you have to.

  • Make sure, though, that you are doing science.

  • And I don't mean be confrontational when I say this

  • because that's not productive.

  • But take the steps you need to

  • to blur those lines between doing science

  • and learning science for your students.

  • And I think you'll find that when people see

  • how engaged in learning your students are,

  • and you're getting good results,

  • all your opposition is just going to kind of

  • melt away from that,

  • and you're going to turn people into supporters.

  • So, I think that this is the right way to teach science

  • where we're teaching the doing of science.

  • And I think it's important to do this also

  • because this is the way

  • that you would have wanted to learn science as a kid,

  • and, more importantly, I think this is the way

  • that you would want your kids to be taught science.

  • And this is the highest standard

  • that you can hold yourself to as a science educator.

  • So, good luck making those connections,

  • and go do some science!

  • Thank you.

When I look at science education,

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A2 TED-Ed divide river learning classroom education

Overcoming the scientific divide - Aaron Reedy

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/07/03
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