Fall 2004 Table of Contents.
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 New & Now.

Stories:

Battlefield Bacteria

The Last Word

Historic Disclosure

Genetically Altered

School for Scientists

Gravity Unbound

Papers and Profits

 

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School for Scientists

Many of America's most prominent scholarly organizations believe changes are needed in the way science and technology are taught in the nation's classrooms.

Recommended reforms most often center upon jettisoning textbooks in favor of inquiry-based, hands-on instruction, a method of learning, say groups such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that is much more likely to improve students' understanding of, and enthusiasm for, scientific studies.

Of course, talking about "hands-on" science instruction is one thing; selling the practice to already overworked school teachers is quite another. "Exactly where," exasperated instructors might be expected to ask, "are these hands supposed to come from?"

Increasingly, the answer is public universities like MU, where outreach programs are building partnerships between graduate science students and K-12 science educators.

"Our goal is to inspire young people and generate interest in the sciences," says Katy Klymus, a doctoral student in biology and co-coordinator of one such program, MU's Life Sciences Graduate Student Outreach. "For the graduate students, this is also an opportunity to gain experience with outreach and to practice expressing what they do and why it's important to the public and kids."

LSGSO was founded last fall by Klymus and fellow biology doctoral candidate Andrew Cox. The pair worked with MU's Sandra Abell, a professor of science education and director of MU's Science Education Center, and Marcelle Siegel, assistant professor of science education and biochemistry, to develop lesson plans and strategies.

More than a dozen graduate students have thus far volunteered to help out in local classrooms. Among the lessons they are offering: "Funky Fungi!" a suitably yucky exploration of fungi-plant interactions; "Tigers for Tigers," a lesson revolving around the work of the MU conservation group of the same name; and "Metamorphosis," a kid-friendly tutorial, complete with complementary caterpillars and tadpoles, describing how certain animals change as they progress through their life stages.

"It's fun to talk about science with excited kids," says Cox. "At least half of science is sharing what you learn. It's especially fun to share with young children because they are open-minded and often very excited about learning new things."

       
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Published by the Office of Research.

©2007 Curators of the University of Missouri. Click here to contact the editor.