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!