Saturday, February 14, 2015

Nature of Science in Action

Week Two is over and Week Three about to begin with a chemistry lecture and lab.  The Wellington Group are getting together on Wednesday so i am looking forward to catching up with everyone.

Week Two had some excellent experiences.
There were a couple of science communication and science writing workshops with students from Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.  It was pretty affirming to see similar group work being encouraged in a tertiary setting and also that there is still an emphasis on narrative structure for science writing.

There were more sessions with the biology dictionary.  Being in that space of uncertainty in my learning certainly places me in the realms of a student.  It is a good space to inhabit as I think it shows that I am walking the talk when I ask my students to be risk takers.  I tell them that we learn from failure but this gives me a clearer understanding of how scary putting myself in that position can be.

The week ended up in the field in Gisborne.  Only one bee sting to report.  Working with so many stakeholders means that clear communication and a good understanding of my own role is vital.

The NOS objectives are easy to see in the field.
The project started because of observations which were made.  
I think the cycle then moved to understanding in science, could the observations be explained by what was already known?
Next came communicating in science where all the parties got together and discussed their observations, plans and ideas.
It seems that investigating comes after all of these others and then probably circles around again.  At least, that is the thinking for today.

Going out with the beekeepers was great.  So much practical knowledge and careful observation which was shared so willingly.
I feel very lucky to be able to work with such an interesting group of people.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Finding inspiration in the NZ Curriculum

I had never before noticed the inspiring quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes at the front of the curriculum.
“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

The nautilus shell which adorns the curriculum is described as a metaphor for growth.  I see that growth as recognising the unlimited potential of all our learners.

I am reminded of the beautiful whakatauki
Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngahere.
Ko te manu e kai ana te mātauranga, nōna te ao.

The bird that partakes of the miro berry reigns in the forest.
The bird that partakes of the power of knowledge, has access to the world.

Each curriculum area has a whakatauki associated with it.  The above whakatauki is used in the Māori section of the curriculum but it applies to all learners.

The following whakatauki has been selected to represent science;

Mā te whakāaro nui e hanga te whare:
mā te mātauranga e whakaū

Big ideas create the house;
Knowledge maintains it.

As I read through the curriculum I am inspired by the thought that lies beneath it.  It is a document that promotes high aspirations for our tamariki and for ourselves as teachers.  
E whakawhetai ana ahau ki nga kaituhi o tenei tuhinga.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Edge

As I start my journey within the Science Teacher Leadership Programme, I can only reflect on the links between science and all other curriculum areas.
At the present time, I feel as though science places you on the edge.  The edge of dreaming where you create possibilities in your mind and also the edge of logic where the rational minds assess the dreams.  So for me, science forms a boundary between the soft and the hard and I see that reflection in the people I am fortunate to be working with, here at the university.

STLP Week One

Science Teacher Leadership Programme
Reflection on Week One

Nature Of Science Aims

  • Understanding about science
  • Investigating in science
  • Communicating in science
  • Participating and contributing

Being hosted by the School of Biological Sciences has allowed me to attend a variety of lectures and seminars.

I have been noticing links to the Nature of Science strands within our NZ Curriculum.
In a lecture by Prof Phil Lester his advice to the students was to "always question science, ask how significant an effect really is".
This links to the participating and contributing and the communicating in science NOS strands.
It was during a discussion on the effects invasive wasps are having on NZ beech forests.  The students needed a basic understanding of NZ ecology to appreciate the effects wasps are having in our forests and the natural food-webs.
How do we develop this understanding of a food-web and local ecology in our students?
Perhaps by involving them in the ecology of the school and the neighbourhood.  Developing a sense of kaitiakitanga in them and modelling this same care-taking role in our daily lives.

It is very easy to link this to Kouzes and Posners Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership (The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner).

  • Model the way
  • Inspire a shared vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the heart

Looking at this list, I believe I do model the way and work towards inspiring a shared vision.  The area I fall down on, is teaching the children to challenge the process. We don't need to educate everyone to be a scientist but we do need people to have a questioning attitude where they will ask about how science can either bring benefits or damage to an area of research and the wider community.

At a community meeting where a scientist was presenting to an interest group about his research, I listened to the community members disengaging from the science.  They did not believe it held relevance for them and were disinclined to participate in any research.  These people held so much collective practical knowledge yet were unwilling to engage in science.  The question is, Why were they unwilling to challenge the process?  If they did challenge the process would it enable others to act?  Why did they not value their practical knowledge on equal terms with the knowledge of a scientist?