A few weeks ago I blogged about an idea that I wanted to try from the Science teacher conference I went to in April. I wanted my students to lead the demonstrations that we were doing often in class instead of doing them myself. I have learned in my first few weeks that flexibility is one of the most key pieces in teaching and learning. Adapting is the only way that you can insure you are trying to do the best for your students. Students are not static so why should we be? I have the fortunate opportunity to be interning in the same school as another Chemistry intern. She is teaching grade eleven and I am teaching the grade 12 level. She also teachers science 10 and I teach science 9. Collaboration is very important to both of us and we got to talking one day about how we can collaborate with all our science classes while killing two birds with one stone and showing the younger science students what they would be getting into if they took Chemistry or other sciences in the future. We both thoroughly enjoyed our POE (predict, observe, explain) assignment in university and decided that we could do something similar with our students. We ultimately decided, for the independent research part of the curriculum, we would have our students do POE’s. Each student is going to do a short demonstration that shows a simple science concept and they will become an expert on that concept.
They are all going to do their demonstration multiple times to small groups of junior science students. The junior science students will be evaluating and will be given clear expectations and a lesson on the importance of being able to respectfully evaluate peers. They will then get to do the science POE’s with the upperclassmen, and evaluate them. We want to show the younger students what kinds of things they will be doing in the upper grade levels and encourage them to take, physics, biology and chemistry. Those three subjects sound intimidating to young science students and they shy from taking physics because it sounds “hard” most likely based on what they have heard about it from shows like the Big Bang Theory. The aim is for the older science students to show simple demonstrations that explain interesting science concepts, and to give the young students a boost of confidence, that everyone can learn science, and that science is fun. I had my students do proposals for me so I could look over what they planned to do for safety concerns and such. I was thrilled to see that my students who tend to struggle with concepts like Gibb’s Free Energy in class were very excited about how they were becoming experts on their science concept. It is the first time I have seen some of them care about science, and I think that is the point of it all!