To introduce our September #onsci optic, we’d like to introduce Charlotte Pezaro (@cpezaro), a self-described “massive science geek” who teaches primary school teaching students at the University of Queensland.
Charlotte: This Thursday 15 September at 9pm (AEST) #onsci will be discussing the importance of teaching science in primary schools and how scientists and science communicators can support teachers to do this.
There is no doubt that teaching science early – and teaching it well – prepares students to act as scientifically engaged citizens. In 2005, Joseph Novak published the results of his longitudinal study. The results showed that students about science concepts early in their learning careers (year 1) held more conventional scientific conceptions and fewer scientific misconceptions as they finished their formal education than their peers who had not learned science in year 1.
However, multiple researchers in countries around the world have found that primary teachers often lack both the science understanding and confidence to teach science effectively (Goodrum, Hackling & Rennie, 2000; Appleton, 1992; Harlen, 1997). In 2005, the Australian Academy of Science responded by developing a series of curriculum resources and professional learning opportunities known as Primary Connections. The program was widely distributed and many teachers embraced the project. Unfortunately, in early 2011 the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations announced that funding for the program would end.
Other opportunities are available for primary teachers. For example, CSIRO Scientists in Schools partners scientists and teachers to collaborate in novel ways that suit both partners’ interests, time, and circumstances. Evaluations of the program have found that partnerships work to break down stereotypes about science and scientists and increase teacher and student confidence to discuss science, science teaching and scientific ideas. Many scientists report that this program helps them to develop better communication skills, as they learn to discuss their scientific expertise with a young audience (Rennie & Howitt, 2009). [This is the program Dr Krystal Evans is involved in, and that I used to work for as a project officer. Prior to working for the project I participated as a teacher, and my scientist partner is still a very close friend and mentor for me :).]
In this #onsci conversation, we will discuss the importance of teaching science early and well. Teachers and scientists are invited to contribute their ideas of what constitutes good primary science education, and any barriers they feel must be overcome in order to do this. They can share their ideas for primary science experiences, and also the stories of their best – and worst – science learning experiences. We will discuss how scientists, science communicators and primary science teachers can collaborate to engage students in science.
Join the conversation by following #onsci this Thursday 15 September at 9 pm AEST (12 noon BST / 7am EDT). Your host will be @jameshutson, using the @onsci account. Additional discussion ideas are most welcome.