Category Archives: teaching

The Inquiry Project

The Inquiry Project is an NSF funded partnership between TERC and Tufts University to create research-based lessons to teach students in grades 3-5 about materials and matter.

All materials seem to be user friendly and include thorough resources for instruction that uncover student initial ideas and engage students in appropriate hands-on experiences with models of matter. The materials are also part of the Talk Science project- which promotes student discourse as a way for students to learn science concepts. Click HERE to see a short video clip.

These materials could be a great supplement to an existing elementary science curriculum. I’d love to hear from any teachers who are already using these instructional materials.

Evolution in Medicine- A FREE Resource from NIH

NIH and BSCS have developed a new FREE resource for high school life science teachers- Evolution in Medicine. The materials can be accessed online, downloaded as a PDF, or you can order a hardcopy from NIH. Seems like a great life science supplement. You may also want to check into the archived webinar HERE.

The table below (from the NIH site) describes the units:

1. Ideas about the Role of Evolution in Medicine Recognize that understanding the mechanisms of evolution, especially adaptation by natural selection, enhances medical practice and knowledge. Using an evolutionary tree, explore how common ancestry shapes the characteristics of living organisms.
2. Investigating Lactose Intolerance and Evolution Understand that natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism to consistently yield adaptations and that some of the variation among humans that may affect health is distributed geographically.
3. Evolutionary Processes and Patterns Inform Medicine Examine how health and disease are related to human evolution and understand why some diseases are more common in certain parts of the world. Analyze data and apply principles of natural selection to explain the relatively high frequency of disease in certain populations.
4. Using Evolution to Understand Influenza Understand how comparisons of genetic sequences are important for studying biomedical problems and informing public health decisions. Apply evolutionary theory to explain the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.
5. Evaluating Evolutionary Explanations Understand the importance of evidence in interpreting examples of evolution and medicine. Appreciate that natural selection and common ancestry can explain why humans are susceptible to many diseases.

Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills

In a continuing effort to expand our thinking as science educators beyond the “scientific method”, I present another fabulous FREE resource from The Pacific Education Institute.. a handbook for Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills. The handbook contains units on:

  • Science Notebook—How do students record qualitative, quantitative, and sensory data?
  • Measure Time and Date—What are the different ways to record the time and date?
  • Estimate the Numbers of Animals in a Group—How can we accurately use estimation to determine the number of animals in a group?
  • Take Measurements and Estimate Size—How can we use actual and estimated size to identify an animal?
  • Focusing on an Animal—What is it like to be an animal?
  • Use Your Senses—How do animals use their senses to survive?
  • WANTED Poster—What are unique traits of different animals (or plants)?
  • Read and Use Maps—How do we know where we are?
  • Use Data to Answer Questions—How can data be used to answer questions?

This handbook is a great addition to The Field Investigation Guide.

Veritasium: Spinning Tube Trick Explained

HERE is the explanation (including viewer explanations) for the Veritasium spinning tube trick I posted the other day.

Veritasium: Spinning Tube Trick

There are so many great things about this clip- I can’t say enough good things about what Derek Muller is modeling about science, science education, and science learning in his video clips at Veritasium. Click HERE to see the latest- Spinning Tube Trick

Teaching Channel: Science Lessons

The Teaching Channel has a rich collection of K-12 video lessons and tools for all teachers. You will also find a variety of video lessons that would be useful for K-12 science instruction. Click HERE to see videos related to science.

The video lessons include topics such as classroom management, differentiated instruction, engagement, etc. Definitely worth adding to your bookmarks!

See the embedded Welcome to the Teaching Channel video and Content Differentiation in 3rd Grade Science below…


Message in a Bottle

I have been out of the classroom for a few years now, so I no longer get notes or gifts from students and parents. It makes me realize that perhaps I took those kind words and gestures for granted at the time. Occasionally I will peruse the pictures and cards I’ve collected and often wish I’d saved them all. Every drawing. Every “World’s Best Teacher” mug. But I didn’t… so I find comfort in what I have.  One of the artifacts I revisit the most was from an adult learner.. a pre-service teacher.

A couple of summers ago I had the pleasure of teaching a science methods course to a group of 60 pre-service K-8 teachers. This group ranged from “kids” in their early 20s to experienced adults entering a second (or third) career as a teacher. I was a rookie in the college lecture circuit but I thoroughly enjoyed by time with those students and I worked hard to help them become champions of elementary science instruction.

On the last day of class, as I went to turn in grades and clean out my mailbox, I discovered an empty Dasani water bottle tucked beneath some junk mail. Inside the bottle was one long strip of paper wound in an artistic tangle. I gently pulled out the strip of paper, like the NY Stock exchange ticker, and read the following from one of my college students:

Dear Kirk, We talk about your class a lot. Everybody loves it. A lot. If Peter Travers from Rolling Stone wrote about your class, he would probably say something like “No class can be a downer that fills you with pure exhilaration. You leave Kirk’s class with a feeling of the rarest kind; that you’ve just enjoyed a close encounter with an enduring classic.” Seriously, I was talking to different classmates today about how science really isn’t their thing, but they look forward to your class. I kid you not. They also commented about it makes them want to teach science now. During the first class you briefly mentioned how statistically, science classes don’t change attitudes towards science. You definitely are. Your passion and dedication is obvious, you have a swell sense of humor, and your teaching style is contagious. Well, Kirk, this concludes my ramblings. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, A Student

That Dasani water bottle currently sits in my office. Every couple of weeks it will catch my eye. I grab it, unscrew the lid, and carefully withdraw that curled strip of paper. The words lift me up and remind me that maybe I’m OK at this teaching thing. And then I start to question why I’m spending most of my days locked in meeting rooms discussing educational initiatives, visions, missions, strategic plans, and pacing guides- feeling so far removed from the work of teachers and students.