Pedagogy Discussion 7/28/10

In open concept classrooms (no walls, no doors, no privacy), how might we address the noise of the machines and the excitement of the students so that we do not disturb the learning environment of others?
  • While the scopes make noise, it may not be intrusive to others.
  • Could a room be reserved that might provide a more private learning environment for the week (conference room, empty classroom)?
  • Could adjoining classes be engaged in the activity as well so that all are participating and no one is disturbed?

How might activities be adapted for concrete learners (younger students)?
  • Use actual objects (models) rather than images and photographs
  • Narrow the scale of objects (eliminate Beatlejuice)
  • Whole group activities will help to keep attention (you can't expect young students to work independently while a small group works on a project)
  • Young students may need to be exposed to activities in 15 min. increments and/or rotating stations
  • Some stations may need to be visited more than once - the first time for exploration and exposure, the second time for reflection and extension

What skills are utilized when introducing/teaching nanotechnology to students?
  • Estimation
  • Scale Factor
  • Scientific Notation
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking - the concepts approached in Nano help to provide students with needed transferable skills (those skills we use in many areas of our lives)

At what level would it be most advantageous to introduce students to the scopes and nanotechnology?
  • Putting scientific tools in the hands of students as early as possible is beneficial
  • Due to the abstractness of the science, it helps to expose students early
  • Early exposure will help students to see themselves as scientists
  • Even young students can picture (imagine) small things (flour on hands to simulate germs)
  • This expands upon curriculum (circuits, etc.) and helps them to explore higher level options
  • Bringing in scientists and equipment raises interest and excitement exponentially
  • Students at young levels are still eager to explore (many older students experience a reduction in their natural curiosity)
  • Exposure at any level may help to excite a student about science who may not have been interested before
  • Scientific inquiry can stimulate engagement in students

How might we work around scheduling (block schedules, etc.) and bias against science?
  • Special events often crop up altering the expected schedule
  • Science is often viewed as a "disposable" or "unimportant" subject

What is the average background or experience of your colleagues that teach science?
  • Elementary teachers have only minimal (intro level) exposure to science classes in their prep program
  • Content has been less a focus than the pedagogy of teaching science
  • Continuing education often occurs in the form of workshops (optional - teachers must take the initiative and seek out opportunities)
  • Curriculum is often provided in the form of kits
  • Time (science not in the schedule) and dedicated space are often issues

Successful inquiry-based programs often have:
  • Well trained teachers (aware of how to engage students in questioning, comfortable with students taking control of inquiries)
  • Equipment that is well maintained
  • On-site assistance

Wish List:
  • Available resources: a handout of equipment that can be borrowed, people who can help, trips/tours that are available
  • Funding: there isn't money for tours, busses, and field trips
  • Opportunities for after-school programs that bring students on campus
  • Day-long opportunity for mini-workshops and tours for teachers
  • We need a nano-book (a picture book that explains the nano scale and technology for young students)
  • A student workbook similar to those used during Bioeyes week
  • A list of exactly what will be provided for classroom activities so that teachers can best prepare and group students
  • Possibly put a cardboard top on the ping pong ball tubes to keep students from "cheating" by looking down the tube. The cardboard top could have a hole in it for the rod to go through for measurement.

Notre Dame's role:
  • Notre Dame has been charged with the mission of improving community outreach
  • Their primary responsibility is to promote research and to educate students
  • It is often difficult to disseminate information about the participation of teachers in learning opportunities at ND (faculty/administration is often unaware of continueing education experiences)
  • Barriers need to be eliminated between K12 education and the university to better enrich the environment and enhance the community
  • An infrastructure needs to be established in order to be able to offer outreach opportunities such as visits to the DVT
  • There is a developing committment to K-12 education

What will a week of Nanotechnology in the classroom look like?
  • Teachers would have some autonomy in the program (they would fascilitate some of the hands-on activities in the middle of the week with the Nano-team providing support and equipment)
  • The partnership is expected to be an ongoing collaboration with classroom visits for years to come (contingent on funding)

Reflections on the experience so far this week:
  • The tour was amazing: beautiful scenery, plant life, the new law building, the clean room.
  • The scope of research (and the number of labs) had not been expected.

Literature Connections:
  • The Magic School Bus
  • Gulliver's Travels
  • Zoom

  • The RET (Research Experience for Teachers) application process usually opens in February and has a short window of enrollment (google RET Notre Dame)