Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Memo Week 10

In my mind, this week's reading summed up everything we've done thus far. I made connections between the content of different weeks, but this week really seemed to tie everything together and explain why we've been talking about the things we've been talking about. "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" outlined problems with the previous curriculum and why different aspects of the new curriculum were proposed.

One of the ideas that stood out to me was about the need to ground science education in the experiences of students. This is something that has been a recurring theme this semester, and when I evaluate my experiences and the experiences my sisters had in science it seems to make sense. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who consistently (from 1st grade all through college) made science applicable to my daily life. In 7th grade, we spent a unit on primates, and Mrs. Thome took us on a field trip to one of the nature reserves to do "field work" and observe the long-tailed macaques that lived there. Macaques were a fairly common occurrence in my life, often walking down our street to rummage through the garbage or traumatize our dog. Our "field work" grounded the content and the scientific practice in my daily experience. Neither of my sisters had teachers that made a concerted effort to relate content back to the experiences of students, and as a result, both of my sisters think science is a lot of vocabulary and facts to memorize.

Cultivating a sense of wonder in our students, in my opinion, encourages them to ask questions and seek answers in an effort to explain the world around them. As these skills are nurtured, they pour over to other aspects of life (why only wonder about the natural world and not literature or history or math?) and engage students in school in ways they may not have been engaged before. I see science as a powerful tool that can be used to draw students in to school.


  1. I agree. One of the reasons I extol science fair so much is that it was the primary way our teachers brought us into the practice of science. However, we rarely, if ever, were shown how science connects to our daily lives. The best we could do was watch the frantic pace of technology development around us. This is also one of the reasons I have been thinking recently about how I might structure a biology course to start with something students interact with daily, such as ecology, rather than the standard macromolecules to cells and organelles to genetics, etc.

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  3. Phillip, I think the point you bring up about changing the order of biology curriculum is an interesting one. Saint Mary's recently did that to their introductory biology class and have had quite a bit of success with it. They are now able to do more lab activities outside as hands-on experiences since the weather is still nice, plants have leaves, and animals are still around. If your school allows you to, that change could be useful in engaging your students.