A couple weeks back I called a former professor of mine, Vivian Mozol, from the University of Calgary. I explained to her what I was teaching and that I would love to bring my students to the University so that they could get to experience a real science lab, and hopefully ignite a passion/interest in science early in the year.
Yesterday I took my Grade 8 class to the University of Calgary. In the morning, the class toured the nanoscience lab and in the afternoon visited the chemistry lab to get their hands dirty. Each student prepared a RAN chart prior to the field trip. They stated what they thought they knew, then after research determined if it was correct and any misconceptions they had, found additional new information on the topic and finally recorded their “wonderings” with respect to nanoscience and chemistry. The students were able to see some fantastic demos in the field of nanotechnology, get their questions answered and develop new ones. Vivian related chemistry to Harry Potter (and other Hollywood hits), the students made mock-blood and saw many reactions take place before their eyes. Throughout the day there was a high focus on what it means to be inquisitive, students were constantly asking questions, curious about what was happening, formulating hypotheses, discussing observations and making inferences. My favourite part of an experience like this is to see the students who may not shine in a regular classroom setting come alive. There were many students that showed their true capabilities in the lab and the depth of their knowledge.
Today in class we discussed what the class learned and each student produced a product, in a way that meets their learning style, which shows all that they learned. The structure of the day made it possible for students to see connections between science and real life. Moving forward from the field trip, we will be able to continue discussing the importance of science outside of the confines of our classroom and talk about it’s true societal implications and it’s consequences, both positive and negative. Personally, I believe it is so important for students to be able to make connections between their learning and everyday life and more importantly have the confidence to be able to discuss their views in a respectful manner. This will certainly be a focus throughout the year, so that students are able to pick up a newspaper, find an article that is related to science and have a meaningful conversation with another person regarding what they’ve read.
A huge thanks goes out to Vivian and her team for the beyond amazing day!
Until next time,