Monday, July 14, 2014

K - 8 Science and Engineering

Every so often, as a teacher, you have a class of students that is quite unlike any other.There is something about the individual students, as well as the group as a whole, that makes one want to teach for ever. There's nothing quite like the feeling that you have been a part of creating a learning community where every individual  is genuinely interested in learning; the creation of a learning community that is supportive, challenging of ideas, enthusiastic about exploring new experiences and ideas, diligent yet with a genuine sense of caring for each individual in the class.

The class of fourth grade students I taught in 1975/6 was like this and I still remember almost all 34 of them. So too was the group of graduate students who comprised my teaching K - 8 Science and Engineering course this past two weeks. Meeting for three and a half hours a day, the course was an intense exploration of what it means to teach K - 8 science and engineering in a time of great change as we transition to the Next Generation Science Standards. We explored a variety of hands-on, minds-on science activities  involving pendulums, water drops, oil spills, finger prints and so on into which everyone threw themselves with great enthusiasm. We also explore the K - 8 engineering curriculum by building Lego Wedo and Mindstorm sets and programming them to do all sorts of wonderful actions.

For the theoretical background to the course I used Wynne Harlan's brilliant book, Primary Science; Taking the Plunge. This is such a wonderful book for inspiring students to teach science form a constructivist point of view; the way science and engineering should be taught,

The course concluded with a visit to the ECHO science center where we were introduced to ways in which the facilities at the Center could be integrated into a science unit through a field trip. So into the course were the students that they have agreed to meet at the ECHO center later this  week to complete their exploration of the resources available at the Center.

I feel so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful experience. Thank you to all those studets who took part in the course.     

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