Let’s do (real) science!

student2Are you bringing authentic science experiences to your students? I’ve always been a big believer in doing authentic science with students. However, I’ve come to realize that students don’t just want to do “real” science. They also want to be part of something that matters and is important.

Last year, my students helped to design and conduct an experiment that was then carried out on our microgravity flight as part of NASA’s MicroGravity eXperience. They loved the experience and were excited to hear about the results. In fact, I had students contacting me over the summer to find out the results. I also had a great turn out in a before school event to share with them since they are now seventh graders.

This year, I shared about my summer experiences with my new sixth grade class. They wanted to know if they would get to be a part of an experience like last year’s group. At the time, I had a couple of plans up my sleeve for this year, but I didn’t know if they would come to fruition.

On Monday, I told my students I had been named as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. The first reaction from many of them? Now we can do an experiment like your students last year!

The moral of the story? Find real, meaningful opportunities to get your students involved in science. They want these experiences! There are so many out there. From citizen science projects to ones like I have had the opportunity to be involved in. Find something that aligns with what you teach, and let your students experience real science. Our kids want to change the world; let’s help them find the way to do it!

I’m sharing a few opportunities for you and your students. This is just a short list. There are so many more things out there! Search what you’re interested in, and find something amazing to share with your students!

Citizen Science Opportunities:

  • Zooniverse: a variety of topics ranging from space, to climate and biology.
  • NASA’s Citizen Science page: a variety of space related opportunities including closer to home opportunities like cloud watching.
  • SciStarter: a database of science projects that can be done at home, school, online, and a variety of other places in all science disciplines

Teacher Opportunities:

  • NASA’s Teach From Space MicroGravity eXperience: Keep an eye out for future announcements to be part of this amazing program to develop an experiment with your students that you will fly for them in microgravity as part of a parabolic flight!
  • NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program: Applications for this program usually open in September and announcements are made in February/March. Chosen teachers spend anywhere from a week to a month researching on a working NOAA vessel.
  • Siemens Summer of Learning: Two opportunities to be part of STEM either in Washington D.C. or as part of a research lab in the summer. Applications for this year’s season have closed, but they will open again at the end of this year for next year.
  • Honeywell Green Boot Camp: Bring environmental education to your classroom with this experience. Applications are currently being accepted!
  • Honeywell Educators at Space Academy: This one will change your life. Applications are usually open from September-December for the following summer.

One final note: Don’t give up! For Honeywell Educators at Space Academy, NASA’s Teach From Space MicroGravity eXperience, and NOAA’s Teacher at Sea programs, I was accepted the second time I applied, not the first time. All of these programs are very competitive, but don’t let an initial “rejection” keep you from trying again!

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.

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