I am proud to teach science because I am fascinated by the subject. If I hear someone talking about science, my ears perk up and I soon find myself in that conversation. In my early years teaching science, it was not hard to use that passion in my lessons and teaching. However, as years passed, I would often get lost in the minutia of teaching and forget about how exciting science was.
I was able to reignite my love of science and bring this back into my teaching thanks to some amazing NSF-funded programs. Below are some opportunities that help science teachers keep a foot in the field:
The NSF GK-12 Program/Scientists in Residence
The GK-12 program pairs science teachers with science graduate students. These scientists visit classrooms weekly, participating in lessons and helping teachers incorporate real science and science skills in their curriculum. Although the GK-12 program has ended, the Environmental Science Institute (ESI) at the University of Texas in Austin now hosts the Scientist in Residence program, which is a continuation of the GK-12 opportunity. ESI also hosts the Hot Science -- Cool Talks outreach series, which is a great way to stay inspired by science. I used to invite students to participate in these learning opportunities with their families (either in person or by watching the live streaming) for extra credit.
GK-12 participants learn about marine life at UT’s Marine Science Institute.
NOAA Teacher at Sea Program & Joides Resolution – School of Rock
Adventures through NOAA Teacher at Sea and Joides School of Rock, give science teachers a chance to learn about science amidst researchers and communicate their findings back to their classrooms. UTeach alumni extraordinaire Elizabeth Abernathy has been part of the School of Rock program!
When I stumbled upon the PolarTREC website, it seemed like an amazing opportunity that could revive my love of science and connect my students with real science. I didn’t realize what a huge impact my participation in this program would have on my teaching and career. PolarTREC takes science educators to the Arctic or Antarctic to work with science teams. Teachers write journals and host webinars, allowing the public and students to participate in the research in real time. Beyond the incredible experience of going to Antarctica with research teams and learning about environmental monitoring and space weather monitoring, I found a community of passionate science teacher leaders.
Michelle spreads word about her PolarTREC expedition by visiting classrooms.
The research programs described above are great to keep you falling in love with science, but the community of dedicated science teachers that these programs attract is just as important for a science teacher