Tagged: scientists

Skype a Scientist

mad_scientist@flickr

Image Source by dzingeek@flickr

This week I particpated in a meeting with dozens of science teachers from around the world – right from my own loungeroom!  Science chat is held each fortnight on Twitter, with all members using the tag #scichat. This week’s topic was “What does the ideal 21st century science classroom look like?”. It was a very interesting discussion (although somewhat limited by everyone only using 140 characters!) that included student-centered instruction and real-world, authentic experiments, rather than the cook-book style of laboratory work in 20th century classrooms. One of the exciting things that was mentioned, along with lots of links to great science resources, was having science experts to speak to students in the classroom, from their own laboratory.

In Australia, we have the Scientists in Schools Program, administered by the federal government and the CSIRO. In May this year there were 1617 partnerships across the country, in both government and non-government; primary and secondary; rural and city schools. However, many partnerships rely on the scientist having the time to visit the school – which is not always possible. It would be amazing if more scientists could use Skype for Educators, so that those partnerships could be fully realised. This kind of communication could help to dispel the myth that all scientists wear white coats, have crazy hair and mix brightly coloured, explosive chemicals together!

Evidence – How do we know what we know?

This site, from the Exploratorium, was nominated for the 2009 Webby awards in the Education category and won the “People’s Voice Award”. This site promotes science as an active process of observation and investigation. Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know? examines that process, revealing the ways in which ideas and information become knowledge and understanding. In this case study in human origins, students explore how scientific evidence is used to shape our current understanding of ourselves and help answer the question: “What makes us human—and how did we get this way?”

It is an excellent site for learning about how scientists work – careful observation, collecting clues, investigating relationships, finding patterns and considering possibilites. I plan to use with my very talented Year 7 scientists – what a great way to introduce them to the scientific method!

Marine Biodiversity

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An international team of marine scientists believe that tectonic plate collisions were responsible for bursts of marine biodiversity across the planet. “There have been at least three marine biodiversity hotspots during the past 50 million years,” say a team led by researchers from the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville. Tectonic plate collisions formed shallow, warm seas and many bays and islands, which allowed biodiversity to flourish in different areas at diferent tiimes. Read more on the ABC Science on-line website.