The Young Scientist competition is a wonderful idea and makes you wonder why our students can be so enthusiastic about this and yet so uninterested in studying Science in school. Could it perhaps be anything to do with us as teachers, what we teach or maybe how we teach it.
I have had some mixed feelings about the competition itself however. The decision as to whether you get accepted or not is based on a form which is filled out well ahead of time. I don’t know how the organisers could improve upon this (or maybe they have since I was last involved) but it means that a pretty basic project could get spruced up in the report such that the final presentation bears little resemblance to the report which was sent in.
Aaron Dormer was a student of mine from a few years back and spent a year putting together a large scale model plane and built his own aerodynamic testing station. I helped him with the report and was as positive as I could be about the whole thing, only to find that the project was not even considered worthy of presentation at the fair itself.
In fact I don’t think I have ever had a student or group enter.
That’s why I love Scifest
Put together by Sheila Porter it’s all on a much smaller scale, so almost all projects should be accepted for presentation. It may not have all the hoopla of Young Scientist, but it should get me back into this way of teaching.
Our (my) mode of teaching is very traditional and as a result very poor. I know about formative assesment, constructivism and all the other isms, but it’s just so very, very, very hard; and I mean VERY HARD to change my bad habits. Hopefully this will give me a suitable kick up the arse, and allow me to recognise that an old dog can actually learn new tricks.
I already have one group looking on the net for material, and I got to thinking; wouldn’t it be great if each group had their own blog and were encouraged to submit comments on their peers’ blogs?
Maybe I’m getting carried away!