Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!


jpfeiffer's picture

    My name is Jenna Pfeiffer and I am a rising junior at Bryn Mawr College. I am an anthropology major and a biology minor. Upon entering Bryn Mawr I was certain I was majoring in biology, yet as I studied anthropology it dawned on me that I could study both disciplines simultaneously as each focused on human life in unique ways. I am incredibly excited to start working with Dr. Grobstein and Mr. Wilfred Franklin as well as my peers at the K-12 Pre-College Science Education Fellowship at Bryn Mawr College because I think it is a valuable outlet to studying the ways in which students learn about science and mathematics as well as their responses to both disciplines. Throughout my education (in a public school), specifically in high school, I realized that many students were automatically detracted from the study of science and math. They were often either intimidated by the material or quickly labeled themselves as 'non-science' or 'non-math' students thus incapable and unwilling to learn the material. I found it interesting that many students were quick to label themselves as 'non-science' or 'non-mathematics' students yet many would not label themselves as 'non-English' or 'non-history' students. Also, it seems as though whereas students are encouraged to use their imagination in English and writing courses, the incorporation of imagination in science and mathematics often ends in late elementary or middle-school when students participate in science fairs. Learning thereafter, however, seems to be relegated to reading textbooks and PowerPoint slides neither of which greatly provoke one's imagination or creativity.

    Another point that I am interested in exploring is how to make the study of mathematics and science interesting to students. Personally, attending pubic high school and being exposed to the state mandated knowledge tests in both science and math which students were forced to pass in order to advance to the next grade also made me realize the strong pressures associated with the need to do well in both science and math for each student. Luckily, I was always interested in the study of math and science, but if I were not I know that I would not find math and science interesting if I were only learning the material to pass an exam at the end of the school year. Also, from personal experience I feel as though a lot of science and math could be more hands-on type of learning. I know that many students are incapable of conceptualizing certain ideas when they read them from a text, yet succeed in understanding material when it is presented to them in a hands-on fashion. Because of this, I think it would be interesting to explore the role of 'hands-on' teaching in the classroom and its benefits.

    These are some ideas that I had in mind when I submitted my application. However, I am extremely excited to see where this program leads as well as the ideas and thoughts of my peers, teachers, and Dr. Grobstein and Mr. Wilfred Franklin. I predict an excellent summer ahead!