When I started helping with science education at my daughter’s elementary school many years ago, I noticed something profound. It happened not in the classroom, but on the playground before school one day. A child I barely knew rushed up to me with a big smile on his face yelling: “Nancy!!! Nancy!!! Do we get to do science today?” That’s when the proverbial light bulb lit up in my brain – this is the attitude all children could have. Imagine that – all student coming to school hungry for science. Right there on the playground I realized I could reach many more students by involving Gonzaga undergraduates in science outreach.
This was the catalyst for Gonzaga’s science education outreach program, Science in Action!
On my sabbatical year 2006-2007, I tested science activities at Roosevelt Elementary school. The next year, I launched Science in Action! with just a few students working with 4-6 classrooms; sending teams of Gonzaga University undergraduates to K-6 classrooms for eight weeks each semester to do hands-on, guided inquiry activities. The program now sends over 70 Gonzaga students each semester to more than 20 K-6 classrooms and after-school programs; it has sent 750+ students into 275+ classrooms since that first session in 2006. The GU students are trained in weekly workshops and bring the necessary supplies with them to their classroom later in the week. The K-6 students love having Gonzaga students in their classroom and our GU students find it rewarding to share their love of science and teaching.
The goals of Science in Action! are to:
- Cultivate K-6 student curiosity, knowledge in science and overall scientific literacy.
- Recruit science majors into the teaching field.
- Help pre-service teachers develop confidence in their abilities to teach science by providing them with a
- Tool kit of science exercises and activities
- Real world setting to test teaching strategies that will help them into their future classrooms.
- Provide additional resources to our partner teachers and schools to help teach science all the time!
We envision that all students, no matter their background, will be truly engaged in science early on in their education.
We envision a world in which everyone understands that science is a way of thinking, a strategy to figure out how something works (whether it is a machine or a muscle fiber), and that science is what, in the end, will enable us to make our world a better place.
We live in a technology-based society full of complicated challenges. Who will usher in the next era of antibiotics, solve our food production and water issues in a changing climate, and solve our growing energy needs? What we need are diverse brains from diverse backgrounds that have grown up with large helpings of science education. Science in Action! attempts to build this foundation in our community.
Professor Nancy Staub
Science In Action! Director