During the spring semester, ecology students were tasked with taking a college-level idea and breaking it down into an interactive activity for 10 year olds. The broader purpose was to help undergraduate biology majors learn to communicate science to varied audiences.
“I believe that you don’t truly understand something until you can effectively teach it,” said St. Andrews student Sam Garriques. “I felt this was a good way for students to get their feet wet with the teaching aspect of science.”
The ecology students in groups of two or three developed concepts, invented games, wrote information, conducted tests and presented their activities to the fifth graders at Sycamore Lane.
This is the second year students have taken science to Sycamore Lane. Eight stations were constructed this year where groups of about 15 students rotated every 15 minutes. Topics ranged from why one side of a mountain range might be wetter than the other side, to how natural selection works, to why vaccination stops the spread of a disease.
With the help of fifth grade teacher Cynthia Johnson, the 114 students had fun chasing balls where they were really learning how organisms that compete for the same resources might coexist with each other without driving another extinct.
“It is vital that scientists learn to communicate science to the general public, and it is important for kids in schools to engage actively with science,” explained Asst. Professor Tracy Feldman. “Through the project, I hoped both college students and fifth graders would get excited about scientific ideas and gain new perspectives on those ideas.”
To learn more about St. Andrews visit www.sa.edu.