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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

National Lab Day

The White House is launching a new lab initiative that should help link some of the research labs to K-12 schools. The program is called “The National Lab Day Initiative”. This is a good idea but many of these plans fail because they have not asked the classroom teacher how they would fit this into their curriculum. Any one of you knows that preparing a class for an outside speaker does take some time and in many schools we barely have access to phones much less a computer lab in our rooms. So, the connections with the outside folks have to be planned and worked into a crowded and complicated schedule.

We, as teachers do this all the time and often do not let folks know of the issues we juggle when we do. For that reason I would like to spend a bit of time in this blog asking you to chime in on what you think would help connect you to the working scientists? It sounds like an easy question but each school is a bit different.

In my school I love connecting via SKYPE or e-mail. When my students can come in and have an e-mail from a working scientist on a question or issue they are really excited. They will carefully read the message and reply as soon as they can, eagerly awaiting the next reply. Of course as a teacher I want to see what they are sending and remind them to spell check and re-read their e-mail before sending. That all takes a little time but it is worth it as it helps the connection and teaches my students net etiquette.

The online seminars and lectures that you can join with your students are also useful but often there are too many folks online to allow your students questions to be answered. For these I love to have programs with a follow up e-mail component. I often ask my students to try to get their questions in but keep them in case they do not and e-mail them after the seminar.

Those online adventures with working scientists would be exceptional if a student was the moderator of the discussion or the chat. A student knows what other kids are thinking and can bring that unique younger perspective to the mix. If you know of any with that student component please post them.

With all that said here are a few sites to begin your search for connections.

The John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers a variety of programs that help connect working scientists with students.
http://cty.jhu.edu/

The perspective of the scientist is important to consider when teachers plan interactions with their classes. ReSciPE is a project designed to assist scientists who are engaged with K-12 education. Their site gives lots of sage advice and some great links.
http://cires.colorado.edu/education/k12/rescipe/

Sometimes you or a student will have a question that you would like to have answered by a scientist.  For that there is a great web site where working scientists answer all sorts of questions.
http://scorescience.humboldt.k12.ca.us/fast/ask.htm

OK, so now you have a start for links, a place for questions. That is only a start. There are thousands of folks out there willing to help boost science and math learning and interest. Log in and let’s start the discussion about what you need and how this rich resource of people can help you in your classroom.

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