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View Diary: Remarks by the President on STEM (131 comments)

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  •  Science will NOT be fun, rewarding, and cool... (2+ / 0-)
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    Common Sense, Caelian

    ...as long as we continue to forbid kids to actually do anything in science.

    In two school systems I worked in (as a science consultant), I was paid to do cool stuff and help the kids do cool stuff, all to help kids see that science is fun. I worked with all grades (K - 12). There was very little equipment, but I was allowed to spend a bit on some basics.

    The kids did fingerprints (on each other, and tried to find the "criminal" who left prints on a soda can). They also did some detecting and gathering of evidence when I "robbed" the teachers, and they found out that sometimes even control groups aren't very good (one group had eyes closed, one had ears covered, one had both covered, and the control group could see and hear everything). We had a local cop come in and demonstrate how he lifted fingerprints, and a state cop showed how he took suspect's fingerprints.

    We did blood types (they stuck themselves, and used real reagents). They did cultures on the socks they were wearing and on their unworn clean (but not sterile) socks (that experiment made the front page of the large newspaper several counties away!). We made food pyramids - out of real food (leftovers from lunch that day).

    We marbled paper (in Language Arts classes) (they ended up learning measurements from that one, as well as a bit about surfactants), and they turned in that year's portfolio entries in on their marbled paper.

    We examined parts from a real engine, then made an engine train, from the pistons to the real wheel differential, with tinker toys.

    Etc., etc.

    Now, change schools.

    The middle school "science lab" was an unused classroom filled with junk. There was no equipment at all, except for one microscope that another teacher had swiped from the high school.

    I was deemed to be insufficiently qualified to do anything with blood (I'm a 6-year Med Tech, certified, but that made not the slightest difference). Growing bacteria was disallowed. We could make our own fingerprints, but looking for a fake "criminal" was deemed to be bad for the kids.

    I never bothered even trying to do anything else.

    Bottom line: There are two school systems where the kids now think science is cool, and one where they think it's pretty dull. Guess which is which?

    Congress is looking into the Bernie Madoff scandal? The guy who made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $11 Trillion disappear?

    by SciMathGuy on Mon Nov 23, 2009 at 04:56:37 PM PST

    •  Great Job (1+ / 0-)
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      SciMathGuy

      You provide a superb illustration of Obama's main point. We can do wonderful science and engineering education if we turn great teachers loose with great teaching resources at their disposal. Science IS fun!

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