Liz Meyer is a Science Specialist at Waldron Mercy Academy in Lower Merion, PA. Last school year, she coached a K-3 science team that won 1st place nationally and was honored at the ExploraVision Awards Weekend in Washington, DC.
Q: Do you have a process for entering ExploraVision?
A: After 10 years of entering the competition, it’s become a badge of honor in our school. I believe anyone who wants to participate is more than welcome. We don’t tie involvement to grades. In fact, some students who aren’t the most accomplished book wise have done fabulously. ExploraVision is inclusive of all students at our school.
Q: What are the benefits of participating in the program?
A: The positive benefits are numerous. I’m grateful for the one-on-one time with my youngest students. I find my students are so engaged when they work on a topic they enjoy that they’re teaching me as much as I’m teaching them.
Caption: Meyer’s winning 3rd grade team proudly presents their signed certificates at a school award ceremony
Q:How do you help students brainstorm ideas?
A: I ask my team to make two lists: things they love and things that bug them. We then discuss what could be viewed as a large issue. From there, we use problem-solving techniques to frame and form our project idea.
Q:How do you keep your team motivated throughout the ExploraVision process?
A: Motivation can be an issue for our older students. When their attention fades, I give them a pep talk and tell them, “the light is at the end of the tunnel and we’ve accomplished so much…we’re almost there!” We then move ahead will full force.
Caption: Two students from Meyer’s team demonstrate how the Sea Turtle Assistant Rod (S.T.A.R.) can improve aquatic habitats with solar energy and sensors
Q:Is ExploraVision part of your school district’s curriculum?
A: We actually use the program as an extracurricular activity for students. Because we align with Pennsylvania State Science Standards, ExploraVision allows the opportunity to bolster science education with the Next Generation Science Standards.
Q:Do you have advice for first-time coaches?
A: I would tell teachers to not be scared. Coaching is all about taking a leap of faith and believing in your students’ abilities. Oh, and of course: schedule, schedule schedule!
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