Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Suggestion for Getting Science to Wider Audience

As in past posts, one of my personal worries has always been the relatively weak exposure to science in early grades, say K-6, in many school districts. It is no secret that elementary teachers routinely feel least comfortable teaching science because of a lack of training and experience in their schooling, and that is understandable. Add to this the focus on only math and reading due to No Child Left Behind, and there is even more reason to spend less time on science.

One suggestion I'd like to throw out there is to arrange for science-related shows on local cable channels. For example, I've been involved in a local show (Science Power) that was designed by a friend of mine from Loyola University, and for the past five years has done monthly shows throughout the school year which are intended to reach elementary and middle school students. Each year there is a different theme, and each show emphasizes the scientific method to reach some conclusions about the topic for that particular show. This year we are focused on the senses, and, using sight as an example, we get into the physics of light, the specific sensory organs and mechanisms in the human body, and even adaptations of other animals. The show is done live, and students can call in to help us make the show. It is actually quite fun when a second grader calls in and we have a discussion about some phenomenon; it is a very different experience than when I have my normal discussions with the high school seniors in AP Physics who will be attending MIT or Stanford next year.

The point is, over the years we have reached on order of a couple thousand students and have exposed them to some ideas they otherwise would not have experienced, and perhaps some of them may be influenced and motivated to do some more in science some day. In a time of uncertainty about the U.S. future in science and technology, every little bit may help...at least that is the hope.

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