I have always been a very inquisitive person. I remember running around with my magnifying glass, pretending to identify different types of bugs or leaves from my backyard. Life many of my fellow education majors, I can vividly remember watching “Bill Nye the Science Guy” after dinner and asking my mom to re-create the experiments in our kitchen.
My first memory of science in elementary school was in 5th grade when my intimidating but fun science/math teacher, Mrs. Scott let us dissect pig organs in her classroom! We all thought it was the most amazing experience, and I still have not forgotten it to this day.
Middle school was kind of a blur in general, but I honestly don’t remember learning much in terms of science except in 8th grade. I had a new, young teacher named Mr. Dragon (not kidding) who was the definition of a hippie. He came in the middle of the year during our tectonics unit and sang us that Jimmy Buffet song:
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m a gonna go when the vol-cano blows.”
You might laugh…and we definitely did…but that is honestly the only concrete memory of middle school science that I have managed to hold on to. Weird, huh?
High school was a little more science-intensive. I took oceanography which was very interesting, but still had all of the term-memorizing and spitting the information back out for the test. I remember a few NOAA videos and looking at some coral reef samples. None of which helped me much when I took Marine Science 101 here at Chapel Hill. Chemistry was a joke for me. Maybe if I had chosen to take the AP I would have taken more out of it. I did take AP Biology, and I learned that material whether I liked it or not. It placed me out of most of my science courses in college and that was good enough for me!
Sadly, apart from the videos and the dissecting, I don’t remember very much at all about science in school. I am a self-proclaimed non-science person, and I wonder if that’s just because of my experiences in my education. I didn’t really have much at-home experience with science after elementary school. My parents helped me with science projects and encouraged me with schoolwork, but that was about it.
As I look back on my history in science, I realize that I “checked out” in the subject after it lost its excitement for me. I think I became more of an English person after elementary school, which could have been just because of my personality or because of the type of science instruction I received in school.
I think science instruction in schools today has gone from hands-on discovery to more route memorization. I can’t imagine a 5th grade science class dissecting pig organs today. My 2nd grade glass is going to have science out of a kit for the next year…and I can’t pretend that I’m excited about it. I think science needs a revamping in terms of how the content is presented to students. They need to be engaged from the very beginning and on up through high school.
I would define science as “the study of all that makes up life.” I know that is a very vague and broad definition, but science is an all-encompassing subject. From atoms to rocks to whales to air to the planets…everything is science. I know that my experiences have shaped my definition of the build on what you learned the year before. Science can go off in so many different branches and it is hard to be an “expert” in them all.
I hope that I can learn how to make science, interesting, relevant, and fun for my students so that they can develop a strong foundation in all of the different branches in the subject.