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The Need for Science - part IV

The Center for Gifted... a gift in Chicago
The Center for Gifted... a gift in Chicago

Once again, having scientists involved in their communities and especially schools is needed; this can not be put off. Also, having primary-, middle-, and high-school students learning updated/cutting edge science is imperative. The question remaining is how to make first-hand science accessible to everybody. A very well known approach is field trips, which are great for students. During them, school-goers have the opportunity of learning in a less formal environment. This is very important because the excitement and novelty implicit in a field trip releases students from the tension of the school and creates an enjoyable atmosphere, making learning enjoyable and more effective. In addition, having the opportunity of looking, first-hand, at a fossil, a scientific demonstration, or a sophisticated machine is more attractive and inspiring than just looking at a picture in a book. This is the reason why field trips are fantastic.

Unfortunately, field trips are hard to plan. First, field trips need personnel, chaperones, to help during the logistics of the trip. Secondly, field trips cost money, which is a sensitive issue in schools with small budgets. For this, and many other reasons, field trips are limited in number throughout the school year. So, the question is what do we do? One idea is that scientists, from universities and colleges in the city where the schools are located could be invited to share a class with students. The Center for Gifted is a great example of this idea. Scientist and engineers could come to a classroom and do a demonstration and directly interact with the students. Show that a scientist is not a mad-long-haired-funny-weird-laughter-white-lab-coat-wearing guy, and instead he is a human-being, as are they. Now, how should we promote this? One idea would be that, as an incentive, scientists who participate in classes in schools could be recognized for their contributions to the schools. Perhaps they could have the equivalent of what would have been their honoraries for speaking to be considered a contribution to the school and be tax deductible, just as though it was a donation.

Teachers should seek this kind of alternative for enrichment of their classes. For the benefit of their students, and this should be supported by principals and administrators. The need for science is real.