In the 14th episode of The Schoolyard Podcast, host Nancy Chung sits down with Dr. Erica Colón, founder of Champions for Science and @NittyGrittyScience, to discuss the benefits of incorporating real-life events into teaching. Dr. Colón and Nancy share practical tips and tricks for leveraging these events to engage students and foster critical thinking.
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The Power of Real-Life Events
By connecting classroom learning to current events, teachers can create a dynamic and engaging learning environment. Students benefit from a deeper understanding of the subjects and develop a curiosity that extends beyond the classroom.
One example Dr. Colón shares is the upcoming solar eclipse. She encourages teachers to take advantage of this rare event to engage students in hands-on learning. By providing students with solar glasses and exploring resources such as those found through NASA, teachers can create a memorable experience that sparks curiosity and fosters a love for science.
Dr. Colón acknowledges that some teachers may be wary of hands-on learning due to concerns about planning but encourages teachers to start small. By incorporating simple experiments and activities, teachers can create meaningful learning experiences without overwhelming themselves or their students.
She also emphasizes the importance of trying new experiments and activities, even if they don’t go as planned. By modeling resilience and problem-solving, teachers can teach students valuable life skills and create a safe space for exploration and learning.
Citizen Science and Technology
Dr. Colón recommends using citizen science apps that allow students to collect real-world data for use by scientists. By participating in these projects, students not only engage in authentic scientific research but also develop a sense of ownership and contribution to the scientific community.
Additionally, Dr. Colón encourages the use of technology to provide students with immersive and interactive learning opportunities, while also emphasizing the importance of balancing technology with hands-on experiences to ensure a well-rounded education.
Dr. Colón shares a personal anecdote about a field trip to Costa Rica that transformed her perspective. While the plan was an exciting trip to see volcanoes and rainforests, it was the simple experience of seeing squirrels for the first time that left a lasting impression on her students. This highlights the power of real-life events, even the seemingly mundane ones, in creating unforgettable learning moments.
These real-life events are game-changers for both teachers and students. They create engaging and relevant learning experiences that foster critical thinking and curiosity. Dr. Erica Colón’s insights and practical tips provide valuable guidance for educators looking to make learning come alive in their classrooms.
About Dr. Erica Colón
Dr. Erica Colón is a National Board Certified Teacher with over twelve years of teaching experience in 6th through 12th grade secondary science, including Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Marine Science. In 2008, Erica earned her Master’s in Educational Administration but quickly realized her passion was working with science teachers. Erica returned to earn her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in 2011. Through one of life’s unexpected turns, she founded Nitty Gritty Science, LLC, and has reached tens of thousands of science teachers all around the globe!
In 2020, a global pandemic changed the course of history, quickly changing our daily lives in all aspects, and in the scope of education, it changed how teachers taught and students learned. Everywhere, educators faced pandemic-driven remote learning that they had to navigate on their own practically overnight. Looking for ways to support science teachers, Dr. Colón gathered science educators, communicators, and field scientists to learn from one another, share ideas, and help each other persevere through the struggles of added workloads. In doing so, she brought together a team of champions! Champions For Science continues as an educator’s conference series where extraordinary leaders, creators, and innovators in science education come together to focus on the most important matter—our students—the future CHAMPIONS FOR SCIENCE!