Making Science More Approachable
If you asked most K-12 students to describe what a scientist looks like, they might picture an elderly man in a lab coat with crazy hair. Most of what they know is true in cartoon form, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth in real life. “Mad scientists” aren’t nearly as common as people like Sarah McAnulty, a biologist who studies microbiomes and sought to bridge the gap between students and scientists with her Skype a Scientist program.
ExploraVision 2017 winners demonstrated their computer proficiency with 3D modeling
So how does it work? Classes can select a scientist with a specific expertise – from climate scientists to mathematicians, veterinarians, and many more. Once connected, they can see where the scientist works and ask them questions related to the field that they specialize in. This program is especially helpful for teachers who may not personally know any scientists that could bring lesson plans or labs to life! As a result of Skype a Scientist, students in nearly 800 classrooms across the US (plus 12 other countries) have spoken with over 1,700 real scientists.
How to Use Skype a Scientist with ExploraVision
Want to motivate an ExploraVision team you’re coaching this year? An exciting Q&A-style chat with a scientist in the field related to your team’s project could help spark innovative thinking among your students, especially if they’re feeling stuck on their submission.
A Skype a Scientist Q&A session can inspire exercises for students such as drafting questions for the expert, or even a discussion on what scientific field they would like to explore more in-depth. These tasks require ExploraVision team members (and also other students interested in STEM) to think outside the box, and may lead to fun, yet unexpected project outcomes. After all, some of the best inventions were unintended!
ExploraVision 2017 winners with former NASA astronaut, Leland Melvin
Bring a Virtual Scientist Into Your Classroom Today
The free Skype a Scientist program is easy to use, and you can sign up any time to schedule a session with an expert. These sessions can help foster a personal connection between young students and scientists, and put a real face on a previously abstract title such as biologist, chemist, or astrologist.
Interested in participating in the ExploraVision competition with your students? Check out our PBL Tips for Teachers page for downloadable PDFs that apply to grades K-12 and register FREE today! All ExploraVision projects are due by February 8, 2019.
Toshiba and NSTA do not have official partnerships with Skype a Scientist, but recognize the value of connecting young STEM minds to scientists who can serve as primary sources.