Building partnerships with local science museums, such as California Academy of Sciences and Lindsay Wildlife Museum, can add great value to the development of meaningful educational programs. As the project coordinator of Science Lab, I enjoy collaborating with museum education specialists to construct educational content for educator trainings. My role is to provide educators training on shooting and editing video using Flip camcorders to create content for the classroom and introduce PBS and KQED science media resources to enhance science curricula. The science museum education staff and/or STEM coordinators not only offer educational strategies to integrate science skills and processes but also offer the educators access to the animals and exhibits in the museum. I believe the collaboration is what makes Science Lab a strong and unique program for educators.
Connie Loosli, Education Manager at Lindsay Wildlife Museum, also shares my views. “I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and skills with my colleagues. Therefore, I really appreciate a good partnership between organizations with similar goals. This was definitely the case with the professional development partnership between KQED, Contra Costa County Office of Education and Lindsay Wildlife Museum education department. I personally learned so much about using media and technology... I like to feel that my contribution of science content and pedagogy is also beneficial to the participants...Our teacher participants were enthusiastic and came ready to expand their skills and expertise. Thanks to KQED for the opportunity to be part of this.”
Venturing out of the classroom and learning on-site at a museum allows educators to experience science concepts up close and in person. Educators get just as excited as their students do when they are inches away from turkey vultures and gray foxes. With an experiential approach to learning, educators are more engaged and motivated to explore ideas based on their interests.
The most recent cohort of K-3 educators from Contra Costa County was able to use the Lindsay Wildlife Museum as their place of study. Teachers worked in teams to observe, inquire, and film animals. Alexandra and Mary, two third grade teachers from Mt. Diablo school district, were fascinated by the Great Horned Owl and wanted to research its adaptations for their project. They used PBS LearningMedia videos on owls to support their research, interviewed Lindsay Wildlife Museum staff, and used the Flip camcorder to create their final digital media projects. Check out their final project below. Just like learning in the classroom, professional development for educators happens best with purposeful and engaging hands-on experiences.
KQED and California Academy of Sciences have joined forces again to present a second module of Science Lab! Eighteen dedicated San Francisco educators answered our ad and met at Cal Academy on November 8 to start session one
KQED's Science Lab is a free series of workshops designed to support K -3 educators integrate media and technology in the classroom to enrich teaching and learning science.
This Science Lab blog is our space to:
Share comments and reflect on the way digital media is impacting education
Provide highlights of each session and class assignments
Recommend free online PBS and KQED educational media resources to enrich science instruction
Offer strategies on how to use media in the classroom as an effective teaching tool
Offer free and easy-to-use ideas on how to use video and audio podcasting with young learners
Read interviews with Cal Academy's Ed team, SF educators and others!
Shout out to Cal Academy! We are grateful to the museum for hosting six sessions on site and allowing us to use the exhibits as our learning lab. Cal Academy's education team, Helena and Sarah, know science and more importantly, know how to make it fun in the classroom! That's why KQED Education is proud to partner with California Academy of Sciences.
Check out this video that provides an overview of Science Lab.
Hush! Hear that? Silence in the Steinhart Aquarium November 8, 2011
When visiting the museum, teachers are accustomed to noise and lots of it, usually the sounds of excited school children darting from exhibit to exhibit screaming about the cool and mysterious animals they see.
But for Science Lab teachers who have access to the Steinhart Aquarium after hours, the museum is quite a different experience. Being surrounded by leafy sea dragons and sharks without the chatter of second-graders makes studying these creatures a peaceful and hypnotic experience.
In session one, teachers were given time to start the science inquiry process by plopping themselves before an exhibit to observe, notice and wonder. Modeling these first few steps and validating student’s interests does wonders to build enthusiasm and curiosity for a topic.
Q1: What was the most interesting observation you've made at the Steinhart Aquarium?
What's In Your Digital Toolbox? November 15, 2011
Do you remember the 8mm film projector, overhead projector, pencil sharpener as the most important pieces of technology in your classroom? Or did you just Google 8mm film projector?
Digital media and technology have shifted the way educators teach and the way students learn. While many classrooms are fortunate to have a working computer and internet access, not every teacher uses it to its full potential. There are certain skills and confidence a teacher must have in order to use digital media and technology effortlessly and productively in the classroom. And in each school there seems to be a 'digital-divide' between tech savvy teachers and non-tech savvy ones. However, most educators, tech-savvy or not, are aware that the teaching practice must shift as a whole and mirror how students are learning and accessing information.
Q2: How are you, as a teacher, making changes to your teaching practice with the onset of digital media tools such as video, audio podcasts, blogs, etc? What equipment, knowledge and training is needed for everyone to add to their digital toolbox?
Flip Video Tutorial November 15, 2011
Below, is a four part video educast series on how to use FlipShare, the video editing program that comes with the Flip Camera. Each section will take you through a particular part of the process. Part 1 is a general overview of the application's interface along with an explanation of how to download the software from the camera to your computer. Part 2 covers how to save a video from the camera to your computer. Part 3 explains how to make simple trims or edits to a single video. And finally, part 4 overviews how to compile more than one video to create a movie with text and music. To navigate through the four videos, you have to click on the icon on the bottom of the frame that looks like a TV monitor -- it is located to the left of the plus sign (+).
Video produced by Matthew Williams
A Passion for Penguins November 15, 2011
What do penguins do all day? How often have you pondered that question?
The Cal Academy’s Live Penguin Cam is where you'll find your answer. The 24-hr real-time video footage focuses on the African Penguins located in African Hall at the museum. In session two of Science Lab, Sarah led the teachers through the guided inquiry process to find out what activities these penguins do during a certain time of day. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of action when we observed the penguins’ behavior, unless you consider the state of resting mesmerizing.
We used the ethogram or observation data sheet that Sarah created to tally the activities of these penguins in 30-second intervals. Create your own ethogram to collect data on your testable question.
Did you know that an African Penguin:
is monogamous and returns with their mate to the same nesting site every year?
male and female share the responsibility for incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks?
lives 15 -20 years in the wild, often longer in captivity? (The oldest penguin at the Academy,Pierre, is 28.)
Read KQED QUEST's blog post to learn more about Pierre and why he needed a wetsuit! Also, check out the video on PBS LearningMedia to learn more about penguins. You'll find another reason to develop a passion for penguins.
Q3: In what way could you use a live web cam, such as Cal Academy's Penguin Cam, in the classroom to enrich science learning?
A Look at Leafy Sea Dragons at Steinhart Aquarium
November 29, 2011
SF Science Lab FY11 participants LayLay and Sue teamed up to present their final digital media presentation on the leafy sea dragons of Steinhart Aquarium. Check out how they navigated through their learning process using open inquiry and investigated the movement of these beautiful sea creatures.
Prediction vs. Hypothesis
by Helena Carmena
November 29, 2011
Through science inquiry, students experience their natural sense of wonder. The observations they make lead to questions, and these self-generated questions spark the interest to do research! Students learn more about the subject of interest through watching media, reading books, talking to a scientist, or poring over websites. Some of the questions may not be easy to answer by doing research but they could possibly be testable with appropriate planning.
Deciding on a question to investigate can be challenging. The study would need to be feasible, meaningful, not too big, and not too small. The question would be one they could realistically answer themselves through careful experimentation or making observations over time.
In the Investigation and Experimentation standards, students are required to make “predictions” to predict a future event. This is good practice to prepare students to later make a “research hypothesis” in the upper grade levels.
A prediction is only part of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a tentative, testable, and falsifiable explanation for an observed phenomenon in nature. A “research hypothesis” is written with several different components:
If (hypothesis) and (method) ….then (prediction). See the example below:
If…salmon find their home stream by sight (sight hypothesis), and…a group of non-blindfolded salmon and a group of blindfolded salmon from the Issaquah and East Fork streams are released below the fork where the two streams join (planned test), then…the non-blindfolded salmon should be recaptured in their home stream more frequently than the blindfolded salmon (prediction).
Hypothesis writing can be challenging, but is an essential tool for keeping students (and scientists!) focused on exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. Due to the complexity of writing hypotheses, we focus on writing predictions in the younger grade levels. As you can see, it is important to give opportunities to students so they can practice asking meaningful questions and making thoughtful predictions.
Want Free Access to Thousands of Educational Media?
December 5, 2011
PBS launched PBS LearningMedia, a digital media resource web site, to bring the best of public media content together in one place. PreK - 16 educators can access tens of thousands of digital resources designed for and aligned to core standards for classroom instruction. Create an account today at www.pbslearningmedia.org and start searching for digital resources to enrich the classroom learning experience.
Check out this slide show to help you learn more about this valuable teacher resource.