Science matters

Science Friday hits again. And this time it’s about science education.


Source: Stripped Science

Here is the crucial question: How can we keep students interested in science?

Little kids find the world around them fascinating. They crouch down in their backyards to eat a fistful of dirt, they crane their necks to sniff blooming flowers on a bush, they poke squirrels with sticks, they’re all ears as a garbage truck comes crawling down the street, and they constantly observe. They collect and analyze data, then probe for more. Little kids are scientists!

At what age do we lose this curiosity? And why? Once we can figure out how to answer these questions, we’ve got a great shot at retaining more of our little scientists, regardless of whether they pursue careers in the field.

On the fence about whether science is that important? It is. To satisfy your curiosity, check out the aptly titled “Why is science important?,” a film and blog project about this very issue, started by UK science teacher Alom Shaha.

The Science Friday broadcast at the heart of this blog post includes Harry Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Francis Eberle, the Executive Director of the National Science Teachers Association, and Stacy Baker, a biology teacher at Staten Island Academy in New York.

Baker has created the Extreme Biology blog, a tool to engage her high school students in learning and loving biology. Let students blog about science and you’ve got a great teaching tool.

Baker posts videos, links, questions and assignments. This strategy breaks down communication barriers, stimulates a dialogue between Baker and her students, and gets the students talking to each other. Her students post recent studies they’ve read, and ask and answer each others’ questions.

The nature of the web allows more bravery than in a classroom setting, and students normally too shy to speak in class can voice their thoughts here. Best outcome of this blog? Students teach each other. There’s no better way to learn material than to teach it.

In one entry Baker posted about malaria, she describes the cause – the Plasmodium parasite – and a recently discovered potential treatment – starving the parasite. One student wrote a song about this recent breakthrough and posted her video on the class blog. Putting science to music? Very effective, young Skywalker. She learns from the best.

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