March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Summer of Science Through Social Media

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Adam Hermann

Hermann1Student energy levels are rising, birds are singing, and strawberry season is in full swing, which can only mean one thing. Summer is upon us! It is an exciting time of the year for many, but students in particular begin looking ahead to a break from formal education. No more homework or long bus rides, no more sack lunches or single file lines, and much more time to play with friends. As students begin to look ahead, we as educators have the opportunity to utilize social media to help introduce a different style of science education: Self-directed.

Self-directed learning is exactly what it sounds like: individuals taking the initiative to pursue a learning experience. In other words, it is a form of education that the students choose to engage in. While some students may do this on their own accord, or may be encouraged to do so by their parents, the majority will not. That’s where we can step in with fun-filled educational experiences.

BRIDGING THE GAP
Hermann2Social media and online sources are playing a large role in the development of our culture. It is a free communication channel that we can use to reach out to students and their families without requesting any extra effort from parents who already have their hands full. In addition, it is a tool that many students and parents use on a daily basis. Allowing you to tap into a communicative device that in many cases is literally in your student’s hand all summer. Following are some ideas to integrate into a social media platform that may get students thinking:

  • DIY Experiments – Check out some cool science experiments that could be done from the comfort of their own home. Additionally maybe find a video camera allowing the students to follow along, as they might in class. If you’re feeling really ambitious, add some light comedy. There’s nothing more fun then laughing at your science teacher’s jokes, pop-culture references, or failed video takes! (Kinesthetic, Spatial learners)
  • Science in the News – Find interesting scientific discoveries or advancements. The best ones would most likely include compelling images or videos, which provide a visual. (Spatial Learners)
  • Discuss Local Scientific Occurrences – One example might be when (or if) a rainstorm happens to pass overhead. Posting a discussion question about something the students might have experienced first-hand is a good way to create discussion not only with yourself, but with their neighborhood friends, or other family members as well. (interpersonal/linguistic learners)
  • Weekly Science Question – Such questions could be constructed around topics discussed throughout the year, or could lead the students to discover the answer. For example: What happens when you put a glass out in the yard on a sunny day? This is a question that gets the students thinking. Even if they don’t test it out, they will likely take a guess only to wait for the answer to be revealed. (intrapersonal/mathematical)

BUILDING THE BRIDGE INTO SUMMER
Hermann3Now that ideas have begun to materialize, the next step is to formulate the plan. Without a clear strategy you will likely find yourself lost amidst an overwhelming variety of activities. Develop a list of topics related to the curriculum you taught throughout the year. Students will already have a basic understanding of the activity’s topic, making their interest more likely. Once a list is created, turn to whatever resources are necessary (i.e. news resource for “science in the news” or activities for “DIY experiments”).

Here is an example schedule with topics from the NGSS learning goals for 5th grade:

June Subject – Matter & Energy

  • Photosynthesis – Leaf Stamps
  • Atomic matter – Density Matters
  • Energy transfer – Bouncing Ball

July Subject – Interstellar activity

  • Gravitational pull – Pendulum Painting
  • Orbiting Objects – NASA Satellite Viewer
  • Planetary motion – Elliptical Orbit

August Subject – Earth systems & cycles

  • Water cycle – Indoor rain
  • Food web – Food Web Game
  • Weather/climate – NOAA Climate at a Glance

HOW TO ACHIEVE MAXIMUM INTEREST
Ultimately the amount of interest and participation of our students will always be dependent upon the degree of parental involvement. As a teacher the only contact you will likely have with your students after the summer bell rings is an “accidental” encounter. While these do happen from time to time, we as teachers can increase the likelihood of them happening more frequently by being an active part of community events and encouraging families to do the same.

Create a summer calendar of various cultural, scientific, or community events that you will be attending. Some parents may receive this handout and toss it, but many others may post it up on their fridge. Events might include:

  • Free day at the museum or zoo
  • Farmers market
  • Cultural celebrations

Get the students library cards by inviting in your local librarian. This may sound old-fashioned but students are much more likely read if they have the resources to do so.

These suggestions are both long shots, but if nothing else it gets the parents thinking about ways to encourage their student’s academic interests. In the end this parental support is the key to advanced education.

Through the ideas presented, we at Mission Springs Outdoor Education hope that you are able to encourage and support your students’ academic adventure far beyond your physical reach. They are our future, and what we do, as educators will dictate the academic wealth of our future generation.

If you have any questions or comments, we would be happy to speak with you! We can be reached via email at oeinfo@missionsprings.com or call (831) 335-3205.

Thank you for all that you do. We hope that this coming summer brings you great joy and rest for the following year!

Adam Hermann is a marketing specialist at Mission Springs Outdoor Education.

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

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