Monday, March 12, 2007

NSF GK-12, supporting science starts early

As a National Science Foundation Graduate K-12 Fellow, I admire the teachers and principals who share their classrooms with me, letting me burrow deeply into Columbus Public Schools, working jointly to develop hands-on science activities. In the classroom, one resource is not scarce: a child's passion for exploration. Confident nine-year olds use the word ‘hypothesize’ with a glimmer, eager to test their predictions. They are thrilled with the unexpected and the incredible ah-has of discovery.

The National Science Foundation GK-12 conference was last weekend (March 9-11) in Washington DC, bringing together teachers, graduate students and university professors invested in shaping the future of science and technology. My ears transfixed on Dr. Bill Hammock's smooth radio voice as he called for a future full of people comfortable with science. He reissued past NSF director Dr. Neal call for 'civic scientists' to foster the connection between scientists and the public. In the classroom, we must teach kids to use science as part of their decision-making, not to be weary or afraid of it.

The joy I feel exploring glaciers, investigating clues in their chemistry and hydrology, this is the joy of a fifth grader who has built their own thermometer or a fourth grader that pours water on a dirt mound recording its erosion. Confidence and excitement in K-12 science classrooms will lead to a future filled with support for science and technology leaders.