Science News in the Classroom
Posted September 20, 2009on:
I was listening to my iPod this morning and I heard Neil deGrasse Tyson as a guest at a public symposium in Portland, Oregon. It was published as part of the podcast “NOVA scienceNOW.” I’m considering playing it for my class, it’s only 30 minutes long.
This sounds a lot like what goes on in my classroom on Fridays, only way more orderly and with microphones. In my Conceptual Physics classes, my students have an assignment on Wednesdays to print out a bit of science news, any area of science is fine. They need to read the article and highlight key points. I collect these and on Friday we have science news day, where we talk about anything science. I use the articles as a starting point, and we quickly jump from topic to topic. Nothing is off limits, they come up with a million questions. Sometimes they go off and research something further from our discussions.
In addition to using this just to get them thinking about science, I use this to get across certain agenda items. A couple of the news items were cut and pasted into word to make it easier to print. I asked the kids to make sure they note the site it came from, I need the source so I can go back and read more. We talked about good and bad sources. Another student had an article on the 2012 predictions. The first paragraph talked about some scientists needing facts, but the authors were going on “instincts.” I did the pen and shoe drop, asking them about their predictions. I emphasized that scientists guts can be a starting point, but facts are the only things we trust.
This week, an additional assignment is going to be to write a question about science that they have wanted to know the answer to. I’ll may pick from those to get the conversation started or I may put up a “great question” list and let them research a question and present the answer for extra credit.
I was going to imbed the podcast or attach the file for download, but WordPress wants me to upgrade from a free blog to do that. Go to the iTunes store and search for NOVA ScienceNOW. I tried the NOVA website, but they don’t make it any easier to link to the file.
Dr. Tyson has a couple of great responses. One is about using his own children as an experiment in getting kids to be science literate. It’s worth listening to for just that one. There’s more, go listen.
After you listen to it, tell me if you would play it in the classroom. I’m a little wary of audio only, kids tend to listen with their heads on the desks and it can be hard to get them back up.
Update – The kids enjoyed it. At first, they were reluctant (no pictures), but I stopped it half way through and offered to switch to science news. They asked in all three classes to continue the audio. I know they like science news, so that was encouraging. I think they honestly enjoyed the change of pace and learned a little something from someone else.