Inspired Ideas

IMG_2275California Academy of Sciences is somewhere everyone should go to be inspired. A lot of ideas. A lot of resources.  A lot of fun!

We had the privilege of having two excellent experts, Katie and Lyn, to help us understand the concepts of Citizen Science and how it applies to teachers and its implications on students.  When it comes down to it, it is about students conducting and participating in real life scientific research in collaboration with professionals.

As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless.

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Students who work in the constraints of the real world are forced to be creative.  These constraints breed creativity.  Having to solve real problems in the tangible world making the most of what they have.  It is a skill that not only important, but desired.  However, what was most inspiring was Katie’s passion for community involvement.

If you want to achieve success, you have to involve everyone.  Not just the teachers, not just the students, but the whole global community.

Her notion of digital story telling through science was an excellent idea.  Having students set up exhibits, or creating learning programmes for other students are all things applicable to the everyday classroom.  It even works beyond the science room too.

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This all lends naturally into STEM education.  It is not something that is forced, but happens because of the nature of the project.  Because of the community involvement, real life problem solving and the presentation of knowledge students are not only more engaged, but connected to their work.

I would highly recommend that everyone visit the California Academy of Sciences. If not for inspiration, then at for the very least for the sheer amount of fun that could be had…and also to see claw the albino alligator.

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Claw – The Albino Alligator

STEM project ideas from exhibits

While listening to Katie and Lyn describe the Academy’s “citizenship science” (crowd-sourced contributions to scientific data collection) as a way of engaging children in real-world problem-solving, I started thinking about other ways that museums and exhibits could work as STEM “rich project” idea springboards. Perhaps challenging students to design and build (engineer) functional models to explain science concepts? Or create animations to describe processes? Or code a program to do it? Maybe some investigations into different ways interactive displays are actually made interactive? What math, scientific, digital or social engagement and learning principals need to be considered? What about a survey on which kinds of interactive exhibits people like best to collect some data – then “visualise”it? I reckon a visit to SciTech, viewing the exhibits through a design task lens, might be a great start!