Magazine article Multimedia Schools

Let's Get Technical: Online Learning Opportunities for Science Education

Magazine article Multimedia Schools

Let's Get Technical: Online Learning Opportunities for Science Education

Article excerpt

"Honey, girls, just aren't good at science and math," said my Deep South daddy, which delighted me. I could make a "C" in these two courses. "A" was his goal for the rest of the curriculum, and I usually work up to expectations. Today, I teach sixth grade science and have taught science on the high school level as well. I've written online science materials as a result of participating in some very exciting science learning opportunities, on- and offline. With my sketchy background, how can it be that I teach and love science?

Science is about everything that's going on around us, in us, and through us. When I started teaching third grade science, I was startled at the real-life applications for science. I always thought science happened in sterile labs. I'm part of the Cold War/ Sputnik generation; we were tasked with winning the race to space. Science was geared toward "the best and the brightest." Concepts for building rockets, not applications in the kitchen, were the science of the day. Many of us need those concrete applications to get the big concepts, so it was great to begin to learn just how science applies to my everyday life. Filling in the gaps in my science education became one of my first professional development plans. I began looking for science in-service opportunities.

Humans want to know why we exist and how to keep on existing. As a result, critical thinking and the habits of mind of the science community serve as highly useful tools for all areas of life. This realization brings funding to science education, so now funding for science content materials, integration, training, and dissemination abounds. Good science materials and learning opportunities--face-to-face and online--proliferate. To begin to remediate my science education, I signed up for workshops and projects that sounded interesting. I discovered that I loved science in general, and weather and other earth sciences in particular! This love has taken me many places, working with scientists and teachers, learning to bring science to the classroom through collaboration on the Internet.

I've had some extraordinary science opportunities, including these:

* working with a weather satellite ground station and getting weather training in Florida State University's Florida EXPLORES! program [http://www.met.fsu.edu/explores/]

* snorkeling in the Florida Keys, learning the impact of the Everglades estuarine environment on the coral reefs

* studying the geophysical anomalies of Yellowstone National Park with the National Science Foundation's Network Montana [http://www.math. montana.edu/~nmp/]

* creating astronomy lessons for the NASA CERES project [http://btc. montana.edu/ceres]

* learning physical oceanography with The Maury Project at the United States Naval Academy [http://www. ametsoc.org/amsedu/maury]

In short, I've gotten the concrete experiences I needed to understand the larger concepts.

Places to Go, Resources to Tap

Because good Internet projects and resources for teachers and students are plentiful, it's hard to decide which sites to review and share with you here. There's an almost endless list of really great sites out there. I like the availability of raw data for our own classroom research, so I've included some of my most used "raw data" sites, even though these aren't projects, per se. I've had to limit this article to a close look at just a few of my favorite science sites, covered below and in the "Best of Online Science Resources" chart above. But I've also listed a number of resources I use again and again in the "More Great Science Sites" box on page 46.

Museum Sites:

Hosted by the San Francisco Exploratorium Museum, the site [http:// www.exploratorium.edu] provides a cornucopia of online delights. Its content reflects online the museum's mission of creating a culture of learning through innovative environments, programs, and tools that help people nurture their curiosity about the world around them. …

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