Inspiration for this post was found in the HRE participants that have been at Rockfish Camp and Retreat Center since Sunday. Today I was able to join Apache, Bailey, Brandon, Charlie, and Jennifer in the Box Turtle group along with John Rucker and his turtle dogs! What I learned as these youth talked with me left me inspired and affirmed exactly what I know to be true of the opportunities afforded by The HERP Project’s HREs. When asked what they’d like the world to know about being at the HRE, they wanted to share that the HRE allowed them to do things that they’d never done. WOW! Here we have high school students who WANT to learn and do science during their summer vacation. How cool is that?
Since 2007, I’ve watched and interacted with high schoolers who have attended similar HRE experiences. Each year I am amazed with participants’ engagement in science, with one another and with the project leaders. I have come to realize that they embrace the challenges that seem to be associated with field biology and science in general. They work hard learning scientific vocabulary/terms, about mark and recapture studies, how to creatively solve problems and they enjoy being part of a community. In fact, most will tell you that they have to work together to be successful with all the challenges listed above. Participants are also acutely aware of how what they are experiencing in the HRE varies from their school science experiences.
Today reiterated these things for me – even in the 95 degree weather, in the middle of the woods these youth willingly learned how to: identify a male and female box turtle, process a recaptured box turtle and enter data into a database. They did these things together, supporting one another. Each student offered input and each person’s input was honored and valued. When they found out that I was there to see how they take up science and that what I learned from my observations might help us better prepare teachers for science teaching, without hesitation they all expressed a desire to see their school science experiences take on more of the HRE-like characteristics.
These youth are the inspiration for this particular blog entry– I want to honor the work and thought that these students have put in this week by giving them a voice! I think they might be onto something here—they’ve inspired me to think about how we might transform school science so that our students have opportunities to do and learn science – even when it is challenging for whatever reason and who can work together sans competition to deal with the challenges. So, in honor of Apache, Bailey, Brandon, Charlie, and Jennifer, below are some initial ideas about how we might begin think about the ways we give our school children access to scientific knowledge and practices.
- Broaden our perceptions about what counts as science. There is more to science than the Scientific Method.
- We can’t wait to start teaching science until middle school or later. We must do science in elementary school! And I don’t mean read about science, although there is a place for that, it should not be the only access to science that our students in elementary schools have!
- Embrace the Framework for 21st Century Learning and use it to justify making our classes resemble aspects of an HRE. What if we situated our science instruction so that students took on authentic roles of scientists? Might this be a way to open up a world of career opportunities that they never even knew existed?
- Talk to our students and really listen to what they wonder about and are interested in and push them to try new things!
Share your thoughts about how else we might think about transforming students’ experiences in school science! What do you think?Categories: HRE, Post
Tags: HRE, rockfish