Guest post by DOE Science Program Specialist Latasha Fisher
“To be, or not to be.” An often used quote in literary times, but begs the true question – what do you want to be when you grow up? In Florida, students have the opportunity to really engage themselves in the classroom – particularly in courses that will help them shape the future.
The fields of science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as STEM, are really taking shape and will help our state’s economy for years to come. The days of saying, “I hate science!”should be pushed aside and embraced if we want our students to be profitable and compete in a globally connected society.
One teacher in Pinellas County knows all too well how to ensure that her students succeed in science. In fact, she was recently named as a finalist for the DOE/Macy’s Teacher of the Year award. Ponce de Leon Elementary School fifth grade science and writing teacher Tracy Staley is preparing her students today for the real world of tomorrow.
At the beginning of the school year, Ms. Staley gives her new students a survey to find out how they feel about science. She recently found that 70 percent of her students had negative feelings toward science. However, by engaging her students with hands-on science lessons, she was able to make science cool and deepen the students’ confidence in their studies.
At the end of the school year, after repeating the same survey, she found that all of the students enjoyed science – one even said it was fun and they felt like a real scientist! She has found that hands-on learning also helps with language and self-esteem.
Ms. Staley uses the Inquiry Model which enables students to work through their ideas until they have evidence to support their thinking.
In one activity, students read a science fiction mystery book after learning of force and motion. Ms. Staley then asked the students to solve the mystery using the science knowledge they just learned. Students had to justify their claims about the mystery based on scientific evidence, and the result was a fun, engaging lesson that got the kids involved and increased their science and reading skills.
Does your child like science? How can teachers make science fun for students?