What do you find at the intersection of science and writing? In my experience that’s a place filled with energy, inquiry, and amazingly devoted educators!
This morning, early on a Saturday, I had the pleasure of working with a group of educators (half who are public school teachers, half who are museum educators) creating tools to improve the field trip experience for students. (Here’s an earlier post.)
What’s wrong with field trips…you might ask. You may have fond memories of setting out in a bus as a student and exploring some museum, enjoying a day off from school in the name of learning. And for some students, I am confident that is the case. It could be that the field trip even stimulated a life-long passion for natural history or science or art…
But all too often, field trips become either a day where the teacher doesn’t have to teach and students are “enriched” but not necessarily learning, or a day of frustration for teachers, chaperones, and museum staff–spent managing student behavior rather than stimulating curiosity and interest in natural history, science, or art.
So…on Saturday mornings this school year, we’ve been learning together. Thinking about science and writing and inquiry and motivation. Asking and answering open-ended questions and considering all the different ways we and our students learn.
We’ve spent time in the science and natural history museums exploring the exhibits, observing, writing, and thinking. We’ve read articles and searched for resources. We’ve examined what other museums have done and looked at our own local resources. All that in preparation for creating a “toolbox” of sorts for use with field trips. This toolbox has tools for teachers, tools for students, tools for chaperones. This morning was spent developing these tools in preparation for our first opportunity to test them. Later this week we will be seeing how these resources work with students, teachers, and chaperones on a field trip to two museums.
And what I know for sure is that the process of thinking about and creating these tools will improve field trips for students touched by the educators in the room this morning.
The bigger and much harder to answer question is, how do we take our experiences and learning and share them with those who have not been part of our process? Can we translate our passion, interests and expertise into a “toolbox” that will help others? And how do we make sure that the tools we create are user-friendly and help to shape inquiry-based learning for students?
I feel confident that our learning will happen in the intersections. The intersections of our tools and the students, of schools and museums, and of writing and science. It’s in the intersections of powerful ideas and perspectives that the energy and inquiry lives.