A Great Day in the Mud: Seeing What is Possible

On Wednesday of last week I was reminded why I do what I do. Eighteen sixth and seventh grade students from the Edna Drinkwater School in Northport joined me in setting up experimental plots on a clam flat that will allow them to collect data next fall about softshell clam growth rates, recruitment, and predator pressure.

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Taking the Measure

What did we find? That was the question that Sumner Memorial High School Students began to answer this past week as they analyzed the samples that they helped collect from John Small Cove on October 27.

Students at work measuring clams

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Bringing Authentic Science to Schools

Schoodic Institute uses the word “authentic” in its work with Sumner Memorial High School to describe science learning that addresses real problems and needs, where people outside the school want the data that the students collect. It is also authentic because students learn that work by professional scientists isn’t limited to labs or offices. There is a lot of science that happens outdoors, requires hard work, and sometimes involves getting dirty and, as this picture shows, can require some agility. Continue reading

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Science, Community, and Clams

It would be great if students had a chance to do science that matters. It would be great if students had first-hand experience with the work and concerns of their communities. It would be great if we didn’t lose so many clams to green crabs and if we could return clam flats to something like their former productivity.  Maybe we can put those three ideas together.  Continue reading

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NGSS as Maine’s Science Standards? It’s Not So Simple.

Many educators feel that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) should become Maine’s science standards. There is no question that the NGSS have already had a positive impact on science instruction across Maine. But some of us who help schools and teachers engage in authentic scientific investigations that matter to their communities are concerned that wholesale adoption of NGSS without modifications could lead to more “school science” and less authentic science.  In this post, my colleagues Jenn Page (Hurricane Island Foundation) and Yvonne Thomas (Island Institute) and I share our thinking about how to retain what is good about the NGSS while avoiding what is problematic.  Continue reading

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Design of Middle and High School Citizen Science Programs

I have been invited by a National Academy of Science committee to share some of what we have learned at the Schoodic Institute in more than 10 years of designing and implementing citizen science programs in schools. The invitation was an opportunity to review our work, see how we addressed design problems and encountered new ones, and to consider what we learned from all of that. In this post I summarize Schoodic Institute’s work with citizen science and schools over the past decade and then use that summary to propose 8 key elements that should be considered within a design framework for citizen science in schools .  Continue reading

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Teaching Toward the Future: Adaptation and Climate Change

“I touch the future … I teach” — a quotation associated with Christa McAuliffe — captures something essential about the motivation and hope that keeps most of the teachers I know doing what they do. One of the things that makes teaching about climate change difficult is that it can seem to cast a shadow on that hope.  Continue reading

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