The CSIRO Scientists in Schools program enables scientists and teachers to be matched up so that the Scientist can work with the teacher and the students within the school. I am lucky enough to have an awesome partner scientist Dr Rebecca Fox. Rebecca is a marine ecologist who studied at James Cook University in Townsville.
I was a little sceptical about this program. I always thought that there would be problems – Who would I be matched up with? What support would I receive in setting up a partnership? What would I do with a scientist in my classroom? Despite these reservations I decided to sign up because I felt that one of my weaknesses as a science teacher was my lack of experience in working as a real scientist. I thought that participating in this program would not only allow my students to interact with and ask questions of a “real” scientist but also help me to develop into a better science teacher.
Rebecca accompanied my Year 8 Science class on an ecology field trip to Mt Taylor in Canberra, Australia. The students in my class were completing an ecological study of a small are on Mt Taylor to determine the health status of the area. Rebecca assisted the students with their transect and quadrant studies and it was extremely positive to hear that as an ecologist, she completes similar work, be it underwater and on the coral reef! The students really enjoyed Rebecca’s company and relished the opportunity to ask questions about her work.
It was a very positive experience and Rebecca is even giving us feedback on our field trip booklet and procedures to make sure that they are relevant to real scientific research techniques. She is also planning to join my class again to complete a fish dissection to show my students how to put together observations to identify what type of fish it is and infer the diet of the fish. My class, and I, can’t wait.
I do think that this program relies heavily on the quality of the relationship between the teacher and scientist. I made sure that I had a number of ideas and ways that I thought the scientist could work with myself and my class. I also made sure that when the scientist visited, the students were prepared and the activity was highly structured and well organised to ensure that it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all involved.
PS – Check out our Scientist in School in the Marist College Canberra eNews!