This evening the masters and doctoral students presented to science teachers at The World of Inquiry School, School 58. Masters students focused on their best lesson and presented the components of their unit bundle that make a highly effective science unit. The doctoral students presented their work from the science lessons on social justice, identity, respect, and indigenous knowledge.

Sherin and I presented on our studies in social justice in science education. Sherin focused on increasing access to science in informal spaces, specifically after-school programs. One of the key-takeaways from Sherin’s presentation is how informal learning opportunities greatly impact the fostering of student’s voice and promotion of identity development (Birmingham et al., 2017).  Positive identity development occurs through a few key strategies: nurturing scientific investigations that center on science that students care about, recruiting teachers that look like the students- representation – and building relationships with students to ensure their interests are being incorporated in the after-school science club. This lens was a social justice lens that was both critical and promotes science for all.

My presentation/poster focused on social justice in science education for during school hours. The goal was to develop an understanding of how civil rights issues have developed over time. In the 1950s, Brown vs. Board of education the desegregation of schools occurred, and in the 1960s the push for the opportunity for all developed. But we still remain where access and equity to high-quality science education is not a reality for many. The key components that Dr. William Tate (2001) suggests to assess in a science education are opportunity, time, and quality. The key takeaway for teaching within this research is the monitoring of time. Teachers can keep data for time-on-task and students’ engagement in the science, as well as look at the time science is required across the week or school year. How can we increase the amount of time and the time-on-task for all learners?

 

Yang and Saliha presented tonight on respect and identity. In particular, looking at what Moje (2012) calls third space where everyday experiences are brought into the classroom that shapes science identity. Teachers can foster a students’ identity by honoring the students home lives and everyday experiences, while also exploring their identity in school, work and other formal places. Creating an environment that nurtures this identity development is essential. Yang and Saliha created five tips for teachers when fostering a community of respect in your classroom (posted below). What other thoughts do you have?

Elizabeth’s presentation focused on Indigenous Knowledge in Science Education. It was unique and captured the heart of the nature of science. Elizabeth explained that indigenous knowledge is the way indigenous cultures understand the world. It is innovative, socially-mediated and intertwined with one’s culture. Elizabeth presented two great learning activities that could be developed into science units or inserted as special activities: creating a seasonal calendar and using/analyzing resources. Mark your calendar’s for August 9th as it is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

As we conclude this evening, many themes emerged in our presentations from both masters and doctoral students. Themes that emerged from our doctoral presentations were:

  1. Student-centered: promoting equity in science education starts with the students. What science matters to them and is relevant to their communities?
  2. Science is subjective: The promotion of identity and honoring all scientists’ cultures starts with understanidng the way each person sees the world.
  3. Small changes can make a big difference: teachers can make a positive impact in their classrooms.