The opportunity to collaborate and learn with a working scientist over an extended period of time is what makes the Scientist in Residence Program special. Our experience with partner scientist Shona Ellis has enabled us to implement relevant hands on curriculum that is directly linked to what we are doing in the classroom as well as extend our knowledge and comfort level in a specialized field. Shona developed immediate rapport with our students. By incorporating their needs and interests into learning experiences, Shona validated them while sparking the interests of a very diverse group of children. The unequivocal highlight for our students has been the opportunity to work with Shona and her students in the botany lab and greenhouse at UBC as well as engage in activities on the campus farm and in the forest.
We gained more in-depth knowledge from the scientist specialized in our chosen area of study. Using her expertise and knowledge, Catriona Gordon created exciting, hands-on activities to engage and motivate our students. She also inspired us greatly. As a female scientist, Catriona was a positive role model to the girls in both classes. She was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her field of study, and helped to broaden views of our girls about the role of women in science. The students were amazed as they explored the Vancouver Aquarium, the marine life of Whytecliff Park, and the pond community at Burnaby Lake. Without the funding support from the Scientist in Residence Program, we would not have been able to offer our students the opportunity to extend their classroom learning into the real world. The Scientist in Residence Program was an invaluable experience for all of us.
The classroom was transformed into a scientific laboratory, where they used real scientific paraphernalia such as Petri dishes, microscopes, and tweezers. Such supplies were available because of the generous support for the Scientist in Residence Program. The students were always eager for the next lesson to arrive and throughout the week they would collect questions to ask the scientist. The way in which the scientific method has become natural to them will be a valuable skill for their future endeavours. In addition, many parents have made a special point of mentioning how they hear so much about science at home.
The program has provided us with the opportunity to widen our scientific knowledge about trees, forests, and ponds, and we have become more globally aware of some of the environmental issues surrounding these areas. What impressed us the most was how Dr. Elaine Humphrey designed hands-on lessons for the children to make discoveries and to formulate their own understanding. From the start, she encouraged them to be curious and explore. Every child, regardless of their prior experiences or academic ability / level, felt successful in their attempts. This was particularly powerful to watch as our fragile students willingly took risks in their learning and as they made new discoveries, they beamed from ear to ear.
We feel fortunate to have been exposed to this high caliber of professional experience. We were impressed by the level of organization and support offered by the program as well as by the quality of the scientist working with our classrooms. With her contagious enthusiasm and her depth of knowledge, Jean Marcus ignited a real interest and keenness for science in all of us, both teachers and students. It is clear to us that our students benefited both academically and emotionally from learning with a scientist. She made real science accessible. Students learned complex concepts that would otherwise not be taught to them, such as how salinity and temperature affect the habitat of sea creatures living in the intertidal zone. Students had fun while doing science. This positive experience will dispose them favorably towards science in their future schooling.