Science Education: Linking Science and Society

Department of Teaching and Learning

Highlights from Panel One: "Linkages through Classrooms and Teaching"

The panelists focused on three questions:

  1. What changes have occurred in K-12 education since the 1983 NSB report?

    Janice Koch: "There are many overarching "Big Ideas" that need to take root in elementary school so that teachers can build upon them as youngsters go on to secondary school. Ideas like the characteristics of living and nonliving things, the properties of matter that make them different from one another, the forces at work when we ride a bicycle (See Big Ideas)."

    Paul Jablon: "The 1983 report stated 'teachers teach the way they have been taught.’ . . . students need to do science . . . if teachers are to instruct elementary school students with an inquiry-based, activity-oriented, constructivist methodology, then they need to experience this type of learning themselves."

    Pamela Fraser-Abder: "and there are now graduate teacher education courses in the use of nonformal resources (museums, gardens, parks) to teach science."

  2. What other changes are now necessary?

    Julia Rankin: "Teachers I interviewed told me that their participation in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) gave them the tools to help students achieve those 'aha’ moments and the ability to feel part of an intellectual community with professors of science, scientists, and other teachers."

    Joanne Koch: "Cecily gave all her students a sense of the history of science. We can challenge the sequence in which subjects within science are taught. We can do physics first. Why do we keep doing it the same old way?"

  3. What factors affect the participation of under-represented groups in science and how can they be overcome?

    Pamela Fraser-Abder: "Create a community. Bring parents in, bring scientists in, make school a more welcoming place.  Some schools now have cultural cooking one night, line dancing another. The school becomes a supporting environment."

    Paul Jablon: "The opposite is also true. Get kids out of the school and into some service-learning projects. Students enjoy working with real issues: air pollution, asthma. It’s not a matter of getting kids ready for life. Students are living life. When kids are engaged at a very deep level they go out and communicate that engagement to others."