"Reduce the amount of information, reduce the number of facts that we ask kids to cram into their heads, so that there is time in the school day for students to explore, to try things out and then … go back and revisit their ideas," she says. "So, the shift in vision by [Next Generation] would put kids in more active charge of their learning."That’s a chaotic kind of classroom to manage, but it’s key, Colson says, to getting more students out of the science boredom rut and saying, “This is real. It makes sense. It’s interesting.”
Glass vials, a row of chemicals, and an alcohol lamp. Perhaps nothing symbolized the excitement of science in the early to mid-20th century better than a chemistry set. The classic kits got kids tinkering, experimenting and thinking about science. In the process, they inspired a generation of inventors and scientists, some of whom became Nobel Prize-winners. But somewhere along the way, spurred by safety concerns and legal changes, chemistry sets faded in popularity.
A new competition, launched this week, aims to find the 21st century version of the classic chemistry set. A collaboration between the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Society for Science & the Public, the Science, Play and Research Kit competition (SPARK) challenges participants to generate a new set of experiences and activities that encourage imagination and interest in science, bringing the spirit of the classic chemistry set to today’s children.
Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s president and CEO, is an advisor to the competition, which will offer tangible ways to get more kids experimenting with science.
The competition’s top award is for the best science kit prototype with a prize of $50,000. Additional prizes ranging from $1,000 – $25,000 will be awarded for runners-up and idea submissions.
Earlier this month, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published research citing that emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels was partly responsible for about half a dozen extreme weather events in 2012.
It’s clear we all need to do our part to deal with this issue. Here at NYSCI, we’ve been focusing on education. In partnership with Deutsche Bank, we developed climate change curriculums for use in middle schools and high schools. The curriculums can be downloaded for free on the My Carbon Footprint blog.
And now, we’re offering a free workshop about climate change communications on Thursday, October 10 from 10 am – 3:30 pm. Part of our work with the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP), the workshop is designed for organizations and institutions that want to introduce climate change messaging into their existing programs. The workshop is open not only to groups with a primary focus of climate change education, but also to organizations interested in city systems, such as transportation or public health, that will be affected by climate change. Registration for this workshop is open through September 30. Do your part and register!