There is no shortage of opportunity to ‘wow’ your students if you’re a science teacher. It’s a lot of fun to show what happens when you combine a couple liquids that you know are going to explode. It’s even better when you have the students do it.
So why isn’t science ‘cool?’ According to President Obama “I’m frustrated by stories about how we can’t find enough engineers and computer programmers. That means our education system is not working. That’s why we are emphasizing math and science,” Obama said, noting efforts to “make science cool” for minorities and women. [Source: Wired.com]
This statement made in April 2011 at Facebook Headquarters by President Obama got Steve Spangler thinking (and writing). He crafted an open letter that states one of the biggest problems in the world of education today: lack of innovation on the teacher’s part. Students are ready to think science is cool again (like they did in the days of Mr. Wizard as Spangler states) but the secret lies in getting teachers excited. Here’s his letter. It’s worth a read. Then check out Spangler’s site here for more information and a few more videos.
Mr. President, the comment you made at yesterday’s town hall meeting about “making science cool” kept me awake last night because I realized that I actually have something to offer you in the way of a solution to achieve your goal. I was reminded of Don Herbert (the original Mr. Wizard) who made science come alive for millions of kids during the 1950s and 60s. That was exactly what our country needed during the time that followed Sputnik – inspirational people like Don Herbert who made science fun for kids.
Today, we’re faced with a different set of problems that require creative solutions targeted not at the student but the teacher. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true… we don’t have to try to convince students that science is cool or fun. The secret is to focus our time and efforts on training teachers how to make science more exciting and meaningful for their students. It all starts with teaching teachers how to create more opportunities for young learners to wonder, explore, experiment, ask questions and develop their critical thinking skills. A teacher’s enthusiasm for any subject is contagious, and we need to create hands-on learning opportunities for teachers to make science more exciting and meaningful in their classrooms.
Mr. President, I would love to share what we’ve learned over the past 15 years of training nearly 30,000 teachers in ways to turn ordinary lessons into unforgettable learning experiences. I know that you’re serious about making science cool and I think that we can help. Honestly, I’ll share anything and everything we’ve learned about training an army of highly motivated teachers who are truly inspiring their students to look at STEM careers – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Since you’re the President, I’ll assume that you can find a way to contact me, right? I really think that our team has something great to offer… please just tell us how.
Here’s a quick look at what happens when some of the best science teachers in the country share their most creative strategies and practices for making science cool. The experience is called Science in the Rockies.