INSITE FROM A TEACHER'S PERSPECTIVE
Heather PereiraAmador Valley High School, Pleasanton CA
Teaching science in California is changing. We are happily embracing the Next Generation Science Standards and moving away from teaching students to memorize and regurgitate facts. With these new standards our students will be asked to think critically about science issues and to use engineering tools to solve real world science problems. When students participate in the Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair they are, simply as a consequence of the work, thinking critically and solving real world science problems. This is one of the main reasons that I have been heavily promoting the science fair to my students. The benefits to the students are incredible yet not fully realized by the students until they have been through the process.
Students seem to shy away from doing authentic independent science research. I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to teach a scientific research course this school year. There were 31 students enrolled in the course and each one went through the entire research project process and eventually presented their work to others. Students who go through this process learn to persevere, they learn to be goal oriented and they certainly learn time management. They also learn about content in a completely different way than they are used to.
We had more students from Pleasanton participate in the Alameda County Science Fair this year than we have ever had participate before. The momentum is definitely building! Students from our school did very well and they were thrilled to see so many of their classmates going up on stage to receive awards. The students enjoyed the course, especially the daily contact we had to talk about their projects and so they could work on and set up their projects at school. In order to best understand how the students viewed the experience you’ll need to hear from the kids themselves.
“One of the best parts of completing a science project was seeing my prediction come true and getting good results. I also enjoyed going to the science fair and looking at all of the other projects, it made me think of new project ideas for myself!” Emily, 10th grade AVHS
“The science fair is an opportunity to show everyone what students are able to accomplish in the area of science.” Tanvi, 10th grade AVHS
“My only question is “why not do the science fair?” the project helped; me to learn to manage my time wisely. There simply is no late work accepted – your work must be ready to present.” Kari 11th grade AVHS
“The science fair was a wonderful experience. Participating allows you to mature as an individual by taking on a massive project. When all is done the project brings you a wonderful sense of fulfillment that I’ve just never experienced in other classes. I can’t wait to participate again next year.” Christopher 11th grade AVHS