Science Impacts Everyone; Everyone Can Impact Science

Yes, in this week’s blog, I am throwing it back to 2015, when a Senator brought in the infamous snowball that was cold, hard, evidence (pardon the pun) that climate change is a hoax. I am sure you’ve heard about this, but here is a video of the moment, in case you’ve forgotten:

Educators, like most professionals, have goals they wish to achieve in the classroom. One of my goals developed as a result of seeing this video:

I want my students to understand the difference between climate and weather.

  • We experience weather day to day. We look at the weather report for the week so that we know what to expect and how we should dress, and whether or not we should bring an umbrella.
  • Climate refers to the bigger picture; weather trends over a longer period of time, and we often measure it by calculating average rainfall, temperature, etc. over a period of time.
  • Of all the things to study in science, why do I care so much about climate change?
  • Because, despite what we might see on the media, climate change isn’t a bipartisan issue. It isn’t an issue of race, class, gender, or age.

    CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS EVERYONE.

Research shows that when students relate to the content in the classroom, they are more engaged, and when they are engaged, they will be able to better learn the material.

When implemented correctly, science can empower students to make a difference in their communities. This engagement with socioscientific issues is referred to as educated action.

The article Putting on a Green Carnival: Youth Taking Educated Action on Socioscientific Issues highlights one case study that implements educated action.

The students featured in this article are young, African-American females, aged 10-13 from Great Lakes City, MI. These students participated in a program at their local Boys and Girls Club called GET City, which stands for Green Energy Technology in the City.

Both the students and their local community benefitted from the research and action taken by these students. Their end product was a Green Carnival, where the girls could educate the public about the importance of environmental awareness in their community.

This program not only allowed students to engage in STEM activities and thinking, but also enabled them to make meaningful application of the subject matter, and to practice communicating what they learned to others in their community.

Students often perceive science as a body of knowledge, not as a tool for them to take action. The Next Generation Science Standards include “practices,” but often students perceive “practices” as futuristic, not something they can implement now.

The most valuable aspect of this project is that it was directed by students.

They were given support from adults, but the students chose the topic they wanted to investigate, they decided what technologies they specifically wanted to focus on, they were actively involved in problem solving, and they decided how they would communicate their findings to their peers and community.

Science is for everyone.

No matter what age, income, race, gender, or sexuality, science can be accessible, engaging, and empowering.

Reference:

Birmingham, D., & Barton, A. C. (2013, November). Putting on a Green Carnival: Youth Taking Educated Action on Socioscientific Issues. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(3), 286-314.

 

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5 Responses to Science Impacts Everyone; Everyone Can Impact Science

  1. mulligmg says:

    Katin-
    Part of it depends on the students and the community. If the students are passionate about something, I would obviously pursue that subject. It could be planting trees, growing a community vegetable garden, composting, cleaning up litter/recycling… the possibilities are really endless, and it really depends on what prior experiences students have and what they are passionate about.

  2. johns708 says:

    Meghan,
    WOW, such a relevant and relatable topic that all of us future science educators are familiar with. Surprisingly, I have not seen that video of the senator bringing in a snowball, but I just laughed out loud in the library while watching it. You did a great job connecting your ideas with the NGSS. Your ending thought that “science is for everyone” was a great way to end the blog on a positive note. Good post!!

  3. angelokm says:

    Meghan,
    I liked your blog this week. Not only did it have a reference to The Office, but it talked about a topic that is important for everyone to know and understand, climate change. I think that it is great that you want to teach the difference between weather and climate. This is something that some adults still have trouble grasping. Your article highlights the importance of bringing science into the community and teaching everyone that there are problems that can be talked about. Helping students realize that they can make a difference in their community is important and show them that these topics are relevant and affect them. How do you plan on trying to bring science to the community in your future classroom?
    Katin

  4. mulligmg says:

    Tom-
    Thank you! I think giving opportunities like this to students can encourage them to become involved and pursue higher education. On college/scholarship applications, students could write about and share their experience. When they feel that they have made a meaningful contribution, I think they are likely to draw upon that experience and apply it in other ways.

  5. radfortj says:

    Meghan, I think everything in your blog here makes something very clear. Science comes in all different ways shapes and forms and the point that you are making is that all of these different forms of science can effective. It is important for students to create their own learning and engage with it. Doing this helps build connections that students can go back to when trying to remember information and this is made easier by exposing students to many different forms of science.

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