Chalk Talk

Summer is the best !! So much time to get distracted in fun and powerful ways.

One of my goals for GRS grads and (science) educators is to get out of the classroom!!  Leaving the four walls of the school fundamentally transforms learning.  Let’s see if I can name some of the fundamental transformations that I think happen…

  • Decreased perception of hierarchy
  • More explorations
  • More student talk
  • Diverse student talk
  • Different kinds of questions
  • Different tools
  • Feels more real

Last week in EDU 486, Jo Ann had the cohort and me (and the class guest for the day, my 10 year old) design an illustration for a square of sidewalk outside the school building.  Rules: fill at least half of the square, represent a science concept (no words), use lots of color.  When we were done, we stood around each other’s creations and had chalk talk about relativity, the structure of an atom, biodiversity, nature of science , a physics measurement tool, and more.  Passerby’s stopped, smiled and looked on.


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A few years back, a couple Noyce Scholars (GRS grads) and I led a professional development for teachers nationwide on this topic.  We grouped the participating teachers into two groups, and within each group we assigned one person the role of learning scientist/researcher.  While each of the groups FIRST engaged in teaching and learning in the classroom and THEN  defined and conducted an inquiry on the streets of Washington DC, the researcher silently logged data about participation in both of these spaces – who talked, what were they saying, what kinds of questions got asked.  Powerful.  Simply powerful.  The messages that space communicates to how we get to participate.  Outside INVITES embodied collaboration – deeper questions – shared ownership.

But don’t just take my word, GET OUT AND TRY IT!!!


Student Science Publications

Recognizing, learning from and being inspired by others “getting real” in secondary science, check out this journal!!

The Finger Lakes Journal of Secondary Science


And, more specifically, check out the second article of this issue, current cohort.  Be inspired by students writing a scientific paper similar to your beach study:

Ashish Vankara & Christina Yun Liu, Thomas Worthington High School, Colombus, OH (2014). Assessing the variation in biodiversity between two locations on the Olentangy River in Worthington, Ohio.  Finger Lakes Journal of Secondary Science, 1, pp. 15-22.

What would it mean to youth, parents, community and others to have youth-published work?  What would it take from you to mentor that process?  How can youth learn from other youth – check out the articles and see if you might be able to use them in your classes!!  Imagine a Skype call with the youth-scientists!!

One of the articles in the current edition explores Oreo cookie dunking and involves welding!!  Can anyone say STARS?!?!?

“Some really neat articles, including some work my students did on trying to determine the ideal dunk time for an Oreo cookie in various types of milk.  Refreshing science, to be sure.”  – Dave Syracuse, Science Teacher, TST BOCES, Ithaca, NY

Refreshing Science.  Wow – that is a fascinating phrase to ponder.

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