Please reflect on what new ideas you have developed related to science content, your project, and your processes from Thursday afternoon. Please spend 15-20 minutes on your reflection.
I love Clive!!! We were discussing with him our idea of a unifying theme throughout the year. Middle school science courses are basically survey courses where the students are exposed to a little bit of everything (so much for depth!). Clive thought a theme of climate would be a great way to tie in cells, evolution, earth and life history and physical principles in living systems. I have been thinking about how I could bring climate in to all these topics and i am really seeing how I can make this work... maybe using climate as the theme and concentrating on global warming as a specific project. I could see us exhibiting at an earth day fair at the school. Tomorrow Clive is going to give us a geology 101 lecture because it is important that the math and english teacher have a familiarity with the science.
I am eager to begin working on the project. Having very little in the form of a science background, I am excited to be able to learn from both the scientists and my partner teachers. We have decided on the theme of climate which we will embed across the subject areas. I, as the math teacher, will focus my attention on measureable aspects of climate, such as rainfall and temperature change. I would like to begin with an indepth (for 7th grade) study of data collection and displays, potentally having students write and conduct surveys as well as conducting scientific experiments to gather day. I would like to incorporate the use of Excel spreadsheets as well as paper and pencil graphing. I see our project being conducted in stages, where it may start out with student generated data in my class, then move to the experimental phases in the science class, then back and forth between the two classes for collection and analysis. The overall project is still pretty vague at this point but we have some good starting points to spark student interest.
Related to Science content, I really enjoy Clive's demonstrations. I think his hands-on approach is great for middle school students--they will definitely be interested. Regarding my project, I still have a lot to think about. Our overall focus is climate, and how we can teach students to apply fundamental climate principles to different situations. I now have quite a few ideas of how to relate climate to the stories we read in the classroom. I'm struggling still with a novel-study and the final project. Many novels deal with climate, oceanography, and geology, but are high-school level ("Moby Dick", "The Grapes of Wrath", "Tortilla Flats", "Journey to Center of Earth"). I'm still brainstorming with my group on which middle-school level novel to read, and how to relate it with our overall focus. I'm excited by our conversations--we've got lots of great ideas! Also, I'm still thinking about how to incorporate fiction into this project. Science does require expository reading and writing skills, but Language Arts includes fictional writing skills. I'm still trying to figure out how to include creative writing skills.
From spending time and talking with Clive, I have made tons of new connections between my curriculum (Physical Science in 8th grade) and Clive's specialty in Oceanography. I realized I can actually use Oceanography as the theme for teaching all of eighth grade science. I can connect the matter standards we teach to the elemental composition of the oceans and the cycling of elements between the atmosphere, the Earth, the oceans and the biology within them. I can connect our physics standards of motion and forces to the circulation of currents throughout the oceans and the wind force that helps drive them. This, I think, will help students connect these somewhat disconnected ideas about chemistry, physics and astronomy and bring them together in the unifying theme of oceanography. This also makes me more excited about teaching the curriculum in a new and interesting way.
Since I teach in a Foreign Language and Global Studies specialized program, my ideas for projects are taking shape around global ideas of how elements of oceanography connect to global problems such as climate change.
We spent some time sharing our teaching situations (courses, grade levels, etc) with Roland this afternoon. He also spent a good deal of time sharing his research and the general mechanics of HIV/viruses with us. As the science teacher in our group, I definitely heard many things I already knew, BUT I did learn some new things as well. Listening to Roland talk about viruses brought up a lot of questions that I've had, and I felt like I finally got to ask them. I found it hard not to ask a lot of my own personal questions though, just because I was so captivated by the topic.
I think our group needs some time now to brainstorm project ideas and process all of the information we've been given. There are many directions we can move in...viruses, gene therapy, fluorescent protein applications, etc. Our group has contributed many different ideas for non-science subject connections so far, and now it's time to get to work incorporating them into some project ideas.
My main concern today is project rigor to biotech...in other words, making the science technical enough for bio"tech".
I worked with Roland today and I won't say that I learned an enormous amount of information, but I was definitely exposed to a lot of information! Our scientist was great - a wealth of knowledge who was eager to share what he knew. Being that I am the English teacher in our group, the science and math teachers most definitely had a better understanding of the discussions we engaged in with Roland. As a group, we discussed what ways we could incorporate science content into the different disciplines. It was suggested that in my English class I could expose our students to the terminology and vocabulary that would help them understand the scientific terms that they would come across in the other classes that form part of this program. We haven't yet decided on a project, but the information we were given today brought us closer to deciding on one.
A Retrovirus is a virus that uses Reverse Transcriptase to as part of the process it uses to infect its host. HIV is an example of a Retrovirus. Retroviruses, especially HIV and Hepatitus C is the main focus of research in Roland Wolkowicz' lab. We were all a little surprised, I think, to find out there are two types of HIV (HIV-1 and HIV-2).
As far as our project... it sounds like we will be doing something with viruses.
What I really liked about meeting with Roland this afternoon, is he first asked who we were, what we taught, and what our science experience was. As we shared he really listened to us. The he shared with us some ideas of what we could do. Some of the science was over my head, but much of it was an extension of what I learned last year.
We had a fun and informative afternoon with Andy at UCSD. We got the opportunity to see what they call the “cave” I think and it was amazing and very intriguing with the 3D proteins. I was able to film some new footage for our video. We also saw some other wonderful areas of the Atkinson Building. It was fun to be back on the UCSD campus and see all of the wonderful additions they have made. I really appreciate Andy’s kindness and desire to expose us to so many different scientific things, although some of it is over my head, I am really appreciate it, especially the technology aspect.
With all of the technology that Andy has exposed us to that relates to his scientific work I really can see so many avenues that we will be able to go with our project when it comes to technology. I am very flexible with what I can do with my students so I am looking for Darci and Andy to really start brainstorming for science project concepts so we can begin planning our project.
We had a very productive meeting with Fridolin today. I came into it with some apprehension, because I asked them to join the team and I want all of them to feel that they and their students will benefit. I thought Fridolin's research might be too complex or too focused. Well, I was wrong. Dr. Weber is delightful to work with and my group is so smart, they not only understood, they came up with dozens of ways that we could work astrophysics into every subject.
We started with a simple assignment that can be done near the beginning of the year. The students calculate an estimate of the number of grains of sand on the Earth. This brings in teamwork, persistence, math, estimation, problem solving, listening to others, thinking flexibly, measurement and so many other areas that we want to cover. This assignment is primarily math and science, but journalism, technology and English will be involved also.
Today was good for realizing that we can only flesh out basic ideas at this point and do not need to worry about details yet. Students will have to be involved before we can really define the project, so no sense in looking at what can go wrong. Our team works very well together and Fridolin is so easy going and flexible that I am sure our project will develop into something memorable.