Students learning science can experience the excitement of discovery and invention. Understanding science prepares them to participate in an increasingly complex and competitive scientific and technological world.
Meeting the challenge of teaching our children in this rapidly changing world is not easy. Teachers have limited time and materials for teaching science and often find themselves teaching without access to the real world experiences that can make science come alive.
One of the best allies any teacher can have is a person who knows and understands science. A scientist or engineer can help students:
Every community is home to a variety of science professionals who are concerned, just as you are, about educating tomorrow's citizens. Across the nation thousands of them have demonstrated their willingness and ability to become involved in our schools. This guide provides suggestions to help you collaborate successfully with scientists and engineers in your classroom and to make the experience a success for you, for your students, and for those who volunteer to share science with you.
"We had a discussion about AIDS. The teacher and I had talked it over prior to my visit, and I was prepared in case awkward issues arose. I think my communication with the teacher was essential in this case."
-Deborah K. Smith, Ph.D.
To ask questions and to find out - science is a part of what it means to be human. Teachers, scientists and engineers have to become partners in efforts to bring science to children. Working together, we can connect children to the ideas and the processes of science, to the applications of science and mathematics which are all around us, and to the promises and challenges of science and technology.
Teachers are vitally important to education and literacy in science because K-12 is the front end of the pipeline toward careers in science, engineering and medicine; it is also the gateway to lifelong learning, enjoyment and appreciation of science. Scientists have much to share and much to learn when they link to teachers and students. It is worth the effort to reach out and bring scientists into your classroom. Some of them used to teach in schools, as I did. Many of them are parents of school age children, as I am.
This guide will help you make the experience of sharing science a meaningful one for you, for them, and most importantly, for your students.
-Shirley M. Malcom, Ph.D.
Head, Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs
American Association for the Advancement of Science
"I have no children of my own; I have never had a teacher education course; and I have never taught either grade school or high school before in my life. Consequently, I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing. However, you put me at ease, and your class was a model of attentiveness and good behavior. I found your students to be a joy to teach. If you ever feel like taking a chance with me again, I'd love to come and teach your class a second time."
-Dr. David M. DeMarini,
Research Genetic Toxicologist
"I...discussed basic principles of electricity and magnetism and helped students make simple circuits. Students enjoyed the "hand-on" experience. Based on past experience, I expected iron filings and small compasses to be available. I should have reviewed the list of materials with the teacher ahead of time."
-William M. Yeager, Ph.D.
"Like the children we teach, we learn as a result of our own activity - our own struggle to make sense of what we see... We are in this classroom together, and this science work will only be exciting if we care about it together. If I say 'scientists are curious,' but I am not showing curiosity, children will perceive this inconsistency. I need to show, as well as say, how that looks."
-Ellen Doris, Northeast Foundation for Children,
"Doing What Scientists Do"
"More than twenty "Thank-You" cards made by these students with their own words of personal appreciation were sent to me. This was certainly unexpected but was definitely a thrill for me to see the creativity of these students, of how they conceived the microbes and me and then expressed it in pictorial illustrations."
-Joseph K. Li, Pharmacologist
Children and scientists have much in common. Naturally inquisitive, young children ask endless questions. They may spend half an hour watching a bug crawl on the floor. Children sort money, pictures, toys, shells, pasta shapes, and words. They experiment by pouring water into soil, mixing different colors of paints, or adding blocks to a tower until it falls. They draw conclusions about the way things work. They learn from and share information with others.
Scientists share with children a natural curiosity about the world. They are trained to use a more systematic and sophisticated approach to inquiry than children do. They have developed the discipline to remain objective, to reserve judgment until they have the facts, and to recognize the limits of their knowledge. Nevertheless, the skills used in doing science are the same - whether you are a student or a scientist!
Science Process Skill Children Scientists observe look, touch, smell, microscope, x-rays, taste, listen chromatography, experiment change something and change and control watch what happens variables collaborate partners in classroom colleagues around world record journal, score card field notes, computer measure scale, ruler, stopwatch computer analysis, measuring cup calibrated apparatus sort and classify color, size, shape, taxonomic key, weight relevant functional compare fastest, largest, farthest change over time, change in differing conditions analyze what happens most statistical analysis share information class meeting; scientific meetings, at recess, "Guess what Email; over coffee, I found out?" "Guess what I found out!"
Listed below are suggestions of people who might be able to help you in the classroom. Some are research scientists. Others use science in their everyday work life. Other people who might be helpful are hobbyists and collectors who study weather, plants, animals, astron- omy, rocks and minerals, or fossils. Animals Zoologist, entomologist, Zookeeper, veterinarian, microbiologist, marine beekeeper, animal trainer, biologist, paleontologist, physician, forest ranger, cytologist, physiologist, wildlife manager, farmer, chemist, ecologist, neuro- rancher, audiologist, biologist, geneticist, ana- nurse, dietician, X-ray tomist, mamalogist, limnol- technician, forensic spe- ogist, pharmacologist. cialist, pharmacist. Plants Botanist, paleobotanist, Horticulturist, farmer, agronomist, agricultural forest manager, nutrition- chemist, ecologist, geneti- ist, landscape architect, cist, paleontologist, soil conservation officer, pathologist, soil scientist park ranger, agricultural extension agent. Weather Meteorologist, ecologist, TV weather forecaster, air- agronomist, geologist, port flight controller, oceanographer, climatolo- fisherman, boat captain, gist. farmer, pilot, environmen- talist, soil and water con- servation agent. Physical & Chemi- Chemist, biochemist, phar- Architect, inventor, cal Properties macologist, molecular biol- mechanic, carpenter, musi- ogist, physicist, ecolo- cal instrument maker, musi- gist, toxicologist, metal- cian, photographer, lurgist, geologist, foren- builder, police lab techni- sic criminologist, materi- cian, water company techni- als scientist, engineers: cian, cosmetics developer, chemical, textile, indus- gemologist, building trial, acoustical, optical, inspector, potter. mechanical, civil, nuclear, agricultural, and ceramic. Electricity & Physicist, geologist, com- Electrician, radar techni- Magnetism puter hardware/software cian, amateur radio opera- designer, engineers: indus- tor, telephone system main- trial, electrical, thermal, tennce technician, electri- mechanical, and electronic. cal inspector, inventor, radio/TV engineer. Earth & Space Astronomer, geologist, Pilot, astronaut, geogra- Science paleontologist, ecologist, pher, cartographer, sur- physicist, biologist, chem- veyor, geotechnical tester, ist, vulcanologist, aerial photographer. seismologist, oceanogra- pher, soil scientist, engineers: aeronautical, aviation, construction, and civil. Behavioral & Animal psychologist, clini- Marketing professional, Social Science cal psychologist, psychia- business manager, city trist, sociologist, anthro- planner, applied economist, pologist, historian, school psychologist, poll- archeologist, geographer, ster, maker research demographer. analyst, statistician.
Scientists, engineers, and people who use science in daily life can:
"Thank you so much for visiting our class. The kids (and I) learned a lot about Marine Biology and Diving. Last week in Reading Class we were studying "Diagrams" and we had a practice paper with a diagram of "diving gear". I was pleased to see how much of the equipment the kids still recognized! Thank you, especially, for giving the kids a chance to see that scientists can be "real people". I am not sure that is something I realized at their age. P.S. You can see from the kids' letters what an impression your visit made upon them."
- Bonnie Farb, 5th grade teacher
"One thing I try to get across is that you don't have to have a Ph.D. to contribute in science."
- Melissa Mar, Research Biologist
"I discussed the role of fungi in our lives and displayed examples of fruiting bodies and culture plates. The students displayed a great deal of interest and asked both interesting and stimulating questions. The teacher showed an extremely high degree of interest and enthusiasm that seemed to transfer to students. I found the experience to be rewarding beyond my expectations."
- Dr. John E. Mayfield, Mycologist
"I liked when you put the blue and orange compounds together in the liquids. Please say hello to Dr. Hegley, and doctor Pinhas for me. Your friend, Dennis (the person who wants to find out the chemical reaction)."
- 5th grade student
"I talked about entemology, showed the students a collection of unusual insects, allowed the students to handle some live insects, and gave each of them caterpillars and supplies to rear them to adults. The students were interested and excited. Meeting with a scientist enhanced the students' perception that science is a real activity and occupation, and not just a school subject."
- M. Scott Thomson
"I showed the separation of dyes in grape soft drink as a way of illustrating separations and their utility in analyzing for pollutants. Students reacted with enthusiasm and suggested other separations to try. I hope students learned that scientists are real people and that science can be fun."
- Douglas E. Rickert
"A scientist helped a second grade class make electromagnets from materials no more complex than a battery, a nail, and a length of wire. With fumbling fingers, the students created their apparatus and then proceeded, without foreknowledge, to see what the contraption would do. Thrilled with herself and her creation, one bright-eyed girl cried out, "I made a magnet! I did it! I really made a magnet!" Relating his experience, the scientist grew wistful. "It was that experience," he said, "that reminded me of why I am doing all this. Now I know my efforts are worth something."
- Colorado Alliance for Science
Science education is a national priority. Thousands of scientists are interested in volunteering. Sharing Science With Children: A Survival Guide for Scientists and Engineers, a companion to this publication, is in the hands of tens of thousands of scientists. Many national organizations have committed to improving science learning.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has designated National Science & Technology Week 1996 as April 28-May 4. NSF encourages teachers, scientists, and others to participate through school activities, community projects, and public lectures.
Science centers provide rich experiences in science. They are a resource for science activities and ideas for teaching science. Their national organization, the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), is promoting partnerships between teachers, museums, and scientists. Contact your local science center to learn what is available in your community.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a national organization of 130,000 scientists, actively encourages member scientists to work with teachers in schools. Their publication, Sourcebook for Science, Mathematics & Technology Education, includes more than 2,000 listings of programs, people, projects, publications, and organizations. It can be ordered by writing: AAAS, 1333 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005.
Developed by the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science.
Thomas H. Krakauer, Executive Director Georgiana M Searles, Editor and Director of Education
Non commercial duplication of this publication is encouraged.
For additional copies of this guide or its companion, Sharing Science With Children: A Survival Guide for Scientists and Engineers, write:
Georgiana M. Searles
North Carolina Museum of Life and Science
P.O. Box 15190
Durham, North Carolina 27704
The North Carolina Museum of Life and Science gratefully acknowledges funding support from:
National Science Foundation
North Carolina Science and Mathematics Alliance