Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox

Article excerpt

October 2014, Tips for Teachers Just Starting Out

Putting the Science into Science Teacher

After I made the transition from grad school to teaching, I missed doing real science. As a student, you're constantly engaged in scientific work, but as a teacher, not so much. Teaching students to think like scientists can be tough when you rarely do true scientific work yourself. But there are ways to stay engaged in science. Here are some suggestions:

Do science through teacher programs. Numerous programs let teachers participate in lab work over the summer or during the school year. I recently spent two stints on the E/V Nautilus, an exploration ship that engages the public in its research through live interactions and telepresence technology. On one research leg we studied volcanic activity in the Caribbean Sea; most recently we explored sunken ships and brine pools in the Gulf of Mexico. As an Educator at Sea, I sat watches with the science team and remotely operated underwater vehicle pilots, conducted live studio shows at partner institutions, and moderated questions from viewers as we broadcasted live 24/7. I also worked with scientists in the wet lab and cold van to process samples of everything from deep-sea sediment cores to chemosynthetic mussels. My students interacted with me remotely at the time, and my experiences at sea will forever shape the classes I teach.

Another program, Research Experiences for Teachers (RET), partners teachers with university faculty. The teachers work in labs for several weeks in the summer. This model has been replicated across the country. I spent one summer doing microbiology in a C. elegans lab and another remediating polluted water using electrochemistry. Both opportunities led to research posters that I proudly display in my classroom. Programs like these can be competitive, but new teachers with fresh energy and free time in the summer have an excellent shot. Start researching the programs and compiling references in the winter or early spring.

Network with local institutions. Even if you don't find an opportunity to do scientific work yourself, you can still engage with scientists at local universities, museums, and aquaria. …

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