Working with K-12 Students
The most important aspect of your visit is your attitude toward the students, the subject matter, and learning. Your enthusiasm for engaging with students and sharing your work is infectious.
Convey Big Ideas and Objectives
Following a brief introduction, tell students and the teacher what they are going to do during your visit so that they know what to expect. Plan smooth transitions between the different parts of your visit so that students and teacher know how different items are connected and how they are relevant to the type of science you do. During the last 10 minutes of your visit, review the main points of the activities done in class and allow students to ask questions.
Address Students’ Needs and Interests
Knowing your audience is important. Often the audience will differ according to their age. For example, younger children are literal and concrete, but are able to begin thinking abstractly at about the age eleven. Young teens often avoid public attention and, even when interested, may act passive and unresponsive. Toward the end of high school, some students may feel that they have no ability in science, mathematics, or engineering. If possible, make connections between your research and real-life decisions or situations that students may encounter. The thought that science can impact their lives (whether or not they become scientists) often reaches students who are not easily engaged in science.
Include Features of Classroom Inquiry
According to Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards (Table 2.5, NRC, 2000), the following essential features of classroom inquiry are a critical part of science education:
- Learners are engaged by scientifically oriented questions.
- Learners give priority to evidence, which allows them to develop and evaluate explanations that address scientifically oriented questions.
- Learners formulate explanations from evidence to address scientifically oriented questions.
- Learners evaluate their explanations in light of alternative explanations, particularly those reflecting scientific understanding
- Learners communicate and justify their proposed explanations.
- Scientists in Schools Home
- About Scientists in Schools
- Getting to Know a School
- Definitions of Common Educational Terms
- Checklist for a School Visit
- Working with K-12 Students
- Science Topics for Students of Different Ages
- Making a Lesson Plan
- Recommended Resources