The Scientist in Residence Program has given me a much desired opportunity to be involved in community outreach to share the passion and knowledge that scientists such as myself have directly with students and their teachers. Over the course of time working with my grade 6/7 classes I could see the students’ interest and curiosity blossom through hands on activities in the classroom, hearing stories about real science in action and touching and seeing intriguing animals and ecosystems. We live in a fascinating place and I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to have their eyes opened so they can see and explore it. The Scientist in Residence Program provides wonderful, unique opportunities for this to happen.
I have been a Scientist in Residence for the past three years and my partner classes and I have explored worm composting, forest ecosystems, the feeding habits of snails, the processes of weathering and erosion, the environmental implications of logging and a myriad of other fun and engaging topics. Prior to participating in the program, some of the students had never been to the beach or set foot in the forest. Knowing that I have provided the students with new and engaging material and sparked their interest in science is particularly rewarding. Their newfound enthusiasm for science is evidenced by their excitement and rapt attention each and every time I visited the classroom. Giving teachers the confidence to tackle new science topics on their own and seeing them pass that confidence and enthusiasm along to their colleagues ensures that the benefits of participating in the Scientist in Residence Program will persist long after an individual partnership has ended.
It was deeply rewarding to witness the students’ mounting enthusiasm and interest in science and the natural world. Each successive week brought more questions, more curiosity and more delight in understanding marine biology. I believe the design of the Scientist in Residence Program – to couple one scientist with one school and deliver a 6 week unit on a science topic – is the program’s biggest strength. The length of the program enables the scientists to develop relationships with the students and allows for flexibility so that the scientist can respond to their particular needs and interests. I also believe that funding for supplies and field trips is an integral and critical aspect of the program. Such hands-on experiences are critical for making nature and science ‘real’, especially at a time when children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world.
As a scientist in this program, I benefited from the valuable expertise of my teacher partners with whom I worked in partnership throughout the year to develop activities in the area of Structures that would most benefit their students. The students were always excited to see me when I arrived at the school and were very engaged in the hands-on activities that they did. Teachers noticed that due to the hands-on nature of the activities included in each lesson, even students who struggle with school work were able to take part and learn something from the lessons. One lesson in particular really stood out for me: our testing of bridges lesson. The excitement in the room as we added weights to the bridges was palpable –waiting to see if it would break – and letting out a cheer when it held! It is extremely rewarding to know that through the Scientist in Residence Program I have been able to provide a positive science experience to so many children!
As a scientist in the program, I had the opportunity to work with two incredibly talented and enthusiastic grade 4/5 teachers, and more than 50 eager students, exploring marine pollution in our area. The students were engaged and full of questions and perspectives I could not have imagined. For me, working with, teaching, and learning from all the people involved was a very rewarding experience. One of the structural aspects I particularly appreciate about the program is its balance between a high level of organization and flexibility. Three aspects of this support stand out in particular (1) providing lesson templates, (2) access to donated supplies, and (3) the “practice” workshop with the scientists and expert teachers. The Scientist in Residence program, in particular the students and teachers, was one of the highlights of the past year for me.