Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teaching Science to Kids

Way back in my undergraduate days I had the chance to either do the industry thing (in geology that often means oil fields) or go into education. I chose geology education, especially in the K-12 arena. I guess this explains why I didn't get the memo about the demise of the Tertiary...but I digress.

There have been lots of great and not so great programs that have crossed into my classroom. I was a charter member in the Colorado River watch project where we studied the geology-chemistry-physics of rivers to determine overall stream health (biology). The image here is a group of teachers learning how to calculate discharge.

I spent a week at the Colorado School of Mines campus learning how to operate state of the art seismographs to be placed at local schools (that one was shot down by a building principal).

I could go on about the GLOBE program, project wild, wet, damp and all of the others. All very good programs that have stood the test of time. I have just been introduced to another program. This one aimed at middle school kids. (Research tells us that many kids choose the scientist track as 8th graders. )

The JASON project has been around for awhile, but its newest iteration as a subsidiary of National Geographic is one of the best mechanisms to get kids excited about science that I have seen for awhile. The idea is to use new cutting edge ideas AND their researchers to grab the kids. Yes, they start by focusing on the sexy stuff, (flying into hurricanes and swimming with sharks) but they end by hitting all of the key concepts in that discipline as well as doing some good middle school science and in an affordable way. It's not just about the activities they do with the kids but the concepts are backed up by the traditional print text books (think National Geographic for kids)and an impressive array of resources on their web site. Yes, finally a public school curriculum that uses the power of the Internet!

Lets continue to support teachers getting kids excited about science.

1 comment:

Neat Rox said...

I taught middle school physical science for a number of years and was always disappointed with the curriculum because it never got the kids excited about science. So I found myself always coming up with my own material and doing those "sexy" demos and labs to engage the kids. Grabbing kids at a young age and interesting them in the sciences is so important and I'm glad to hear that others out there feel the same way.