On Saturday, I had the absolute privilege to attend the “Giant of Science” talk by Professor Brian Schmidt, Australia’s own Nobel Laureate. This talk was at the Australian Academy of Science Shine Dome here in Canberra as part of National Science Week 2012.
Professor Schmidt was inspiring as he spoke passionately about his research on the accelerating expansion of the universe. He blew my mind with his predictions that eventually cosmologists like himself will be out of a job because the stars and galaxies we now see in the sky will eventually “drop out of the sky” because they are too far away to observe due to the accelerating expansion of the universe. Dark matter and dark energy talk always sends my mind into a tailspin, but I find it so fascinating and love to learn as much as I can in this topic.
The most inspiring part of the talk was his response to an audience member’s question regarding why he decided to become a scientist. He responded saying that his father was a biologist so Science was always discussed and valued in their family. He then went on to say that the most of his science education came from his teachers at school. Professor Schmidt has observed on visits to schools that very young children love Science and Astronomy, but by late primary school students are disengaged and hate Science. This makes me sad and worried. Students in primary school have a varied experience with Science, depending on their teacher. Science should not be about memorisation of facts and figures, which sadly is the case for many students in primary and secondary school. Professor Schmidt then stated:
If we are going to teach science poorly in K through 6, we should not teach it at all… we do more damage than good
He says it is imperative to improve Science teaching here in Australia to engage students and foster a love of Science. Science should be about asking questions, making predictions and exploring, observing and doing experiments to find out about the world, no universe, around us. Science teachers must do the best job that they can and have the opportunities to continually learn and improve their teaching skills and knowledge. The Australian Academy of Science has developed excellent resources – Primary Connections and Science By Doing, to help primary and secondary teachers to do just that. Professor Schmidt believes that these programs will help to improve teaching standards. I have also used parts of both resources to improve my skills and knowledge of inquiry based teaching and learning.
Are you willing to take up the challenge? Are you going to be the teacher that inspires students to love Science and maybe even become scientists?
I know that my answer is a very loud YES! I want students to choose to be in my class and love what we do inside and outside the classroom.
You can view Professor Schmidt’s presentation on the Australian Academy of Science Website.