Drive Change and Help Fix Science Education
Hoosier Academies, a K12 partner school, is now the proud sponsor of the Muncie Children’s Museum Magic Science Mobile that will host experiments that offer “magical ways to look at science.” Fun experiments like Frosted Flakes (a lesson in minerals) and pennies (cleaning them with soda pop) will be featured regularly that will not only teach kids about Science but give them a chance to learn some cool tricks as well!
According to the museum, "Children will journey through the world of science using magic and mystery. This interactive show teaches children about the magic behind everyday items such as pennies, pop cans and cereal! Children will participate in these fun-filled experiments and learn cool tricks to impress their friends."
Mobile science carts are just one of many ways to engage with students and teach them through engagement that science can be fun. Recently, Slate magazine created a special issue looking into science education. They asked their readers to come up with ideas on how to fix science education in America. They received over 100 proposals with ideas ranging from public policy changes to engaging 'fun' experiments for kids. The list is full of great ideas and some can be done with your kids at home.
When I was in school - many, many, many years ago, I remember the fear and feelings of defeat I had whenever I came across anything that contained the words Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM). There was nothing fun about any of those topics and I certainly didn't want to sit in a classroom learning about them for any extended length of time. I was not then and am not now the only one who feels this way. The idea of creating two tracks of science education to attract those that will eventually major in it and those that would benefit from knowing the basics is gaining some attention. In How To Stop Science Alienation Syndrome, writer Deborah Blum recalls a discussion with a physicist about science education.
"the way he defined the American system of teaching K-12 students about science—has stayed with me since. What we really operate, he said, is not so much an education system as a filtration system. Our science classes are designed to filter out those meant for the “priesthood” (his word) of science from everyone else. By the time students are ready for college, those who will become scientists are primed for the next step. And those who are destined for the “lesser” (my word) professions are primed to fear, even dislike the subject."
Blum goes on to advise against "trying to teach every child as either a future scientist or a future failed scientist. We don’t want or need every student to be a scientist, but we do want each one to be a success. And success includes a solid understanding and appreciation of science, one that will remain useful to both themselves and society throughout their lives.
In order for our future generations to be properly prepared for the workforce and help our country succeed in the future, we need to find ways to encourage our kids to explore their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In a previous blog post, I share some ideas to help encourage kids to continue exploring STEM related studies. The reality is that we as parents have to partner with our schools, teachers, and policy makers to drive change and do our part to fix science education.