The return to school after a long winter break is always a tough time. Luckily, students were fortunate enough to come back to school for some fun hands-on science activities this year. In lieu of the usual monthly field trip, January and February offered students the opportunity to attend grade level related science workshops which were run by real life scientists! The fact that the students had one-on-one time with a scientist really had them excited. Overhearing their conversations showed me that their excitement stemmed from the fact that a “real scientist” would teach them “real science”, thus exposing them to things they would never even THINK of doing. Their minds were opened to the possibilities of what science has to offer, other than just book learning and hypothetical situations.
The Science workshops lasted for half of the day, with students rotating through 5 different stations within the room and surrounding areas. Each station had a specific aspect of the grade’s science curriculum to influence the theme of the workshop. The workshop started with a background information and knowledge check, to determine the level of familiarity which the students had. If they were at a level which could be found at the beginning of the unit, they would address the basic stages of the topic, and if they were working at a level towards the end of the unit, the content was much more in depth and complex. This allowed the scientists to adjust the style of teaching that they were putting forth.
My fourth grade class, while working on the pulleys and gears unit, were asked to experiment with the directionality of gears and the ways to lessen the load lift through a pulley system. The students showed great interest in the topic, and as we were at the halfway point of the unit, they worked on aspects that allowed them to solidify the knowledge they still did not fully comprehend, and develop a well- rounded body of knowledge. The kindergarten classes had the opportunity to participate in physical activity that was linked to their science unit. The grade sevens had the chance to play with fire, because honestly, what seventh grader wouldn’t be excited to play with fire?!
These experiences not only allowed for students to learn, but the hands-on approaches brought by the Scientists in School, allowed for the students to have a greater grasp of the concepts which they are currently learning about in science. They get to physically touch, manipulate, and deal with the topics at hand, and that furthered their knowledge and understanding of the materials. Hands-on learning also gave students the chance to experience the things they are learning on a different level than they normally would have. This type of learning enables those who are tactile and visual learners a greater opportunity to grasp and understand the information that is presented to them. The participation and physicality of the Scientists in School workshops opened many minds to topics and concepts of Science, and gave students a greater appreciation of scientific models.
To me, the importance of hosting practical workshops such as Scientist in School is self-explanatory and truly something that can benefit students. It excites students about science, and opens their eyes to what science is all about. So here’s to another successful year of Scientists in School workshops!