Kidsenses explores hands-on science
Fun, hands-on science was the theme at Kidsenses Children's Museum on Friday.
Teachers from Rutherford and Burke counties participated in the museum's Winter 2013 Science Explorers Teacher Camp-In. The overnight professional development adventure for K-5 teachers focused on integrating affordable, hands-on science activities in the classroom.
"The teachers are going to be doing lots of different things like creating plant terrariums, tornadoes and a couple of explosions. We'll also go on a trip through the universe in our planetarium," Joseph Knight, director of education at Kidsenses, said. "They will be here all night. They brought their sleeping bags and will sleep in the exhibit areas."
Knight says this is the first time that the museum has held a camp-in for teachers.
"There is a need. Teachers are having to learn a brand new curriculum this year, the North Carolina Essential Standards for Science, and the curriculum is very different from the old curriculum," Knight said. "The activities tonight are tailored to meet those new curriculum goals."
Stephen Saucier, executive director of North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative and former executive director of Kidsenses, was the guest speaker. He spoke with teachers about STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)
"I try to bring in information that is about this wave of STEM education. I try to give them an awareness of not only those subject matters, but what employers are looking for and how technology is changing and changing us," Saucier said. "We are trying to be more hands-on and get the kids to have real world experiences instead of just doing worksheets. They need to do experiments and let failure be part of the process. They need to get messy in the classroom with science."
According to Saucier, science is not something that you learn, it is something you do.
"It is about getting active and letting them do it. They need to be testing and working in groups and not just sitting in desks," Saucier said. "Kids have to explore science on their own. They have to test the world around them and explore and do their own discoveries."
The museum is planning to have another teacher camp-in in the fall.
"This is a way we can help support formal classroom education. We really want to establish ourselves as a valid and important educational resource for teachers," said Jessica Moss, executive director of Kidsenses. "I think it is a great opportunity to be able to teach them how to bring hands-on science into their classrooms. I'm excited to see them actually doing what the students are doing, questioning themselves and questioning the techniques. It helps us become better as it helps them become better."
As an incentive for attending the camp-in, each teacher went home with a kit of supplies they could use to do these hands-on activities in the classroom with their students.