Given the exceptional circumstances we are in, the following is provided as an example of what I, as a Science teacher, would prepare for my students along with some general considerations. Please note this site is currently being built out. Check back for more information.
This is a perfect time to re-introduce our youth to nature, to encourage them to get outside and explore the world around them. It is spring, but in Maine that comes gradually. Here is one suggestion for our budding scientists:
- Take a piece of string or yarn about 2 meters long.
- Tie the two ends together.
- Then take that loop outside to a plot of land where the string loop can be laid down and left for a few weeks.
- Daily examine, sketch and journal about:
- Overall appearance
- Estimate what part of the loop contents have plant matter. Describe & sketch the variety.
- What animals, including insects, can be observed? Describe & sketch organisms.
- Look for evidence of someone passing through from one day to the next.
- What questions does this prompt?
- Be sure to date journal entries and identify weather conditions.
- At the end of each week, how has this mini-ecosystem changed?
An activity such as the one just described encourages observational skills, asking questions, carrying out an investigation, using mathematical thinking, constructing explanations, obtaining, evaluating and communicating information – essential science and engineering practices. Students learn by DOING science!
Classes, as we know them, are going to be different from what is customary. Some classes will carry on without digital access. Others will convene virtually, yet laboratory experiences will be disrupted. There are virtual lab simulations, but we know that these can’t truly replace lab experiences.
Research is clear that students learn by figuring out rather than learning about science concepts. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center states,
“Over the past decade, there has been a shift in the thinking about the role of the teacher and about the nature of student work. Instead of receiving knowledge from the teacher, students make sense of phenomena through exploration, reflection, and discussion.”
If we can encourage students to identify a phenomena in their community then explore, reflect, discuss the evidence or if we can encourage them to identify a problem and design/engineer a solution to it, we will have helped them to think like a scientist or engineer and to develop some of the skills needed so desperately in society today.
We are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This year's theme is climate action. Why not take some time to have students explore climate change?
We can address a part of mental health along with science by encouraging our students to go for a hike or nature walk, listen for the grouping calls of Maine birds with spring in the air or feel the mud squish between their toes! It won't be long before the vernal pools are teaming with life. What a perfect time to journal and sketch their observations of the changes over the coming weeks.
- Take care of yourself!
- Be creative -- with these extraordinary times comes greater latitude
- AP schedule
- First take care of yourself and your family!
- Recognize that distance learning can never replace classroom experiences
- Informal learning can be quite valuable, however
- Relationships are vital, but need to be kept at a distance
- Check your email & communicate.
- Help your child plan each day and schedule breaks.
State science specialists from across the country have put together some low-tech ideas in the form of menus.
Additional resources available from state science specialists can be found here.
Crabtree Publishing has opened all ebooks free until June 30, 2020.
Scholastic magazine has opened free K-9 distance learning resources.
Maine Audubon resource page
Maine Project Learning Tree (MEPLT) activities for Elementary level.
April 1st recording of ME PLT and Go2Science session.
NSTA Daily Do's Daily activities for learning science for families to do at home.
A great collection of science video clips can be found at The Kid Should See This.
Online teaching do's and don'ts.
This link will take you to a DOE spreadsheet of resources that can be sorted by subject and grade level. It is a live document that is still growing, so check back from time to time.
National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) is offering a 30 day free membership with access to over 12,000 resources in its learning center.
Our friends at Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) have compiled a list of resources which I am sharing here.
The Maine Science Teachers Association (MSTA) has posted a list of distance learning resources as well.
Tips and Tricks for Zoom.
Zoom safety setting tips.
Earth Day 2020
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. A day that asks people to reflect on how their own actions impact the environment and challenges them to take big and small steps to honor and preserve the Earth.
Resources to help celebrate Earth Day every day:
- Scholastic Earth Day elementary lesson plans http://teacher.scholastic.com/earth_day/
Earth Day video
- ncse – climate change education https://ncse.ngo/supporting- teachers/classroom-resources
- CLEAN https://cleanet.org/clean/literacy/index.html
- Nat Geo intro to Earth Day https://www.nationalgeographic.org/activity/introduction-earth-day/
Teaching about Covid-19
With all the buzz around the novel coronavirus, science educators have the perfect opportunity to get students excited about science by keying into a real-world phenomenon. Moreover, I believe we have a responsibility to educate our young citizens in an effort to dispel myths and reduce anxieties through knowledge.
Educators can use this pandemic to address questions such as:
- Are viruses alive? How do they spread in the human body?
- How do bacteria differ from viruses?
- What is an incubation period and am I contagious at that time?
- Why are antibiotics useless against Covid-19?
- What does a virologist do? Who was Jonas Salk?
- How are vaccines developed and why does it take over a year to bring them to market?
Classes must be age-appropriate. High school students can examine disease transmission at the cellular level while it may be more apropos for middle school students to explore why scientists don’t classify viruses as living things. Either level can absorb the reasoning behind social distancing and droplet exchange. Middle and high school students could certainly study population dynamics and exponential growth along with how pathogen spread mimics the associated graphs. At the elementary level, our budding scientists can be reminded why proper hygiene such as coughing into their elbows and washing their hands with soap and water for twenty seconds can break the chain of disease spread.
At times of uncertainty, students look to us for reassurance and to help them make sense of the world around them. Isn’t that what science is all about?
Thank you to NASA, Dr. Jessica Meir, Captain Chris Cassidy, The Challenger Learning Center of Maine, The Maine Space Grant Consortium and Maine students for an exceptional live NASA Downlink April 13, 2020 between the International Space Station and Maine. You all make us proud to be Mainers!
ME astronauts Capt. Chris Cassidy & Dr. Jessica Meir
Ella from Scarborough
Winn from Bucksport