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Week Three

kgould's picture

 Week Three


Now that we’ve been engaging with new people, instructors outside of the Institute, a kind of recalcitrant xenophobia has developed—if these instructors don’t approach science as storytelling, the teachers seem to become a bit stand-offish.


Luckily, this week we had sessions with three new instructors, all of which were successful.


While each did establish a certain authority status as a professional professor or teacher with histories in science, they were able to present their topics (butterfly wing patterns, electron shielding, and math modeling in biology) without overwhelming the teachers with too much information, and without coming across as the end-all authority on the subject matter.


The first instructor of the week opened with getting to know the teachers sitting around the table and prefacing his session with the hope that they would help him improve his lecture style. This immediately created a candor with the Institute participants and let them feel at ease, free to ask questions and consider alternative perspectives.


The second instructor was very enthusiastic about his material, using a variety of different materials (handouts, powerpoints, videos, etc) to appeal to everyone’s unique means of approaching learning. He also showed us a literal approach to science as storytelling, using a story project as a means to help reinforce and solidify a student’s understanding of the material that they had been learning. (In my high school math classes, we had to finish each semester with a “guide” to all of the types of problems that we had been working on. We were encouraged to get creative and, so, I made a series of comic books featuring “Math Girl.” Those were the classes that I did well in and still remember the material from: Algebra 1, Geometry, Trig, Stats.)

Needless to say, I really like the idea of engaging different aspects of students’ interests, working something like an English assignment into a Chemistry class. Because we all have different strengths, encouraging students- who may not excel with math or science –to look at Chemistry topics a different way is a good way of helping them understand the material, and themselves, better.


I really wish that I had had the third instructor as my math teacher in high school. She also utilized different types of subjects and approaches to science/math that made her lesson more dynamic and interesting. She made me want to take a math class, which hasn’t been the case for a long time. My partner and I had a lot of fun taking measurements, graphing our results, and talking about other applications, like forensic sciences.

I enjoyed the teachers’ presentations and the discussions that followed. The first  reminded me of my old biology teacher, who inspired me to try science in college, and of the current event papers that we had to write every week as a means of staying up on current developments in science—ones that we wouldn’t see in the textbook.


The second teacher’s presentation was very interesting and I think, with a little structure (and less run away bugs), his lesson could excel in a middle school classroom.


The intern’s session spawned a very interesting discussion that I wish we could have continued another time because it seems to be heading in a very interesting direction concerning knowledge and intelligence.


I enjoyed the doodling that took place during my session, but I’m afraid that maybe I didn’t present everything the way I intended. I got nervous speaking in front of a group of teachers as some kind of instructor… Heh.


The third teacher’s presentation was amazing. It engaged on all levels, with music, powerpoints, handouts, and drawing (which I love). It neatly established the connections that he was looking for, which would have worked with both his 5th grade students and with the Institute participants.


The fourth teacher’s session was enlightening and gave me a lot to think about. I have to admit that I was very nervous when I suggested an opposing opinion to the religious one that was being discussed, my own opinion (atheistic and generally frowned on), but everyone was very open-minded and careful about how they approached the topic. The level of respect and camaraderie we’ve established is really wonderful.