Friday, August 17, 2012

"Science is an Adventure"

One week has passed since we got our sea urchins.  It was somewhat traumatic - for the teachers :-)  They are concerned that some of their urchins are dying and they want to know if they're doing something wrong.  The urchins aren't eating the specially-designed food, and now it's laying on the bottom of the aquarium.  We don't have the right kind of scale, and we don't know if we're overfeeding or underfeeding the urchins.  Dr. Jones is patient and reassures the teachers that this is normal; we didn't know how the urchins would do when they were moved from one environment to another; we need to try the different foods to see if the urchins will eat them because around November, it'll be harder to get the limu.  He encourages the teachers and tells them that they (and the students) are doing fine, and he concludes his advice with "Science is an adventure!"

I love that line!  Sometimes, as educators, we want everything to come out "perfect."  This is a new experience for us; we have never been part of a project using live animals, and we don't want our urchins to die.  But as Dr. Jones shares, science is an adventure.  That is why I appreciate that these teachers volunteered and are so immersed in this project.  I smile when I read their questions and observations within our edmodo group and I share their concern when things are still so unpredictable.

I remember attending a workshop when I was beginning my career as a teacher back in the mid-1970's. The presenter (Dr. Pickens from the University of Hawaii) wrote this sentence on the board.
      Teachers teach science to students.
He asked us to change the words around to change the whole meaning of the sentence. I was really excited when I figured it out.
      Teachers teach students to science.

As someone who learned science in school primarily through textbooks, this opened up a whole new perspective on how to teach science to my young students.  (Note:  Look up "science" in any dictionary, and it's a noun, not a verb.)  I made it my mission to make sure that students were sciencing in my classroom.  We encouraged exploration and discovery:  we had tools like magnifying glasses, assorted magnets, balances, and even a stereoscope on the science table; students brought in live bugs to feed the green Anole lizard in the terrarium and through their observations, they found out that even if they could catch lots of sowbugs, the lizard wouldn't eat them, so they had to find other food.  We raised butterflies from caterpillars and toads from tadpoles.  I won't forget a parent/teacher conference I had with a father who shared that on the first day of school, his first grader solemnly and very seriously stated, "I like Mrs. Iwase; she has a lizard skeleton on her science table."

Science is not just a subject or a content area we need to teach in school.   Students need to science.  Our sea urchin project, Robotics, and our Hope Garden are wonderful examples of students sciencing.  I'll share about Robotics and the Hope Garden in future blogs.  For now, I'll be encouraging our teachers to teach their students to science and to be adventurers because "Science is an adventure!"

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