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Lila Gaertner's Education Portfolio

"Education is a journey, not a race"

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ESCI 317

Reflection #5 – Native Science

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In a creative way, talk about aspects of “native science” or Indigenous Ways of Living in Nature that you find most compelling. How do see yourself as part of these knowledge’s? Where do you see your journey continuing or beginning?

What I find most compelling is that Native Science practice attempts to connect the “in-scape” of our human intelligence, a microcosm of the intelligence of the Earth and the Universe with the heart and mind. Art and language, through story, song, and symbolic dance are also used simultaneously to explore relationships to the in-scape (the unique inner nature of a person or object as shown in a work of art) and the land. I also find it interesting that the practice of Native Science begins with settling out specific intentions to seek knowledge from participation with the natural world and then exploring intuition and creative imagination. This is why I created a piece where one can see that Native Science can be practiced through art, song (music), story, and symbolic dance. These four are all connected in a circle because they are all practices of Native Science and together they are stronger. Most of these can also be done at the same time – like symbolic dances can also include song and story telling, as well as they are all forms of art.

I think that once one seeks out Native Science knowledge and has a relationship with the land, they can celebrate that relationship and pass on that knowledge by expressing it in one or all of the four ways that I have listed as Native Science practices. I find that the relationship that the Indigenous peoples’ have with the land is very sacred and I want to be someone who passes on that knowledge. I want to be someone who teaches their students to respect the land, understand the nature or essence of things in our world,  have a relationship that includes all aspects of one’s self, and be able to express all of that creatively.

Reflection #4 – Social Learning in Museums

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As I traveled around the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and the Science Center in Regina last week, I found that the conversations I had with my classmates to be very beneficial and thought provoking. The conversations were first of all, a great way to get to discuss with others what you were thinking or feeling about what you were seeing at the museums, but it was second of all, a great way to talk about how viewing these two museums would be beneficial for a middle years class to observe. As my classmates and I walked around the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, we talked about how the  displays with the First Nations peoples were almost romanticized because it looked like the relationship between the white Europeans and the First Nations’ people was mainly positive – with trades and sharing of land, but what the displays left out was the difficult topics like residential schools. It seemed to us like some of the displays were very one sided and there was not any information about the Metis people. There may have been a bit of information on residential schools on a timeline on the wall, but it was very small writing among a lot of history on the timeline and even I overlooked it.

I think that going to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum could be a possible prompt to get students to look for the demonstrated relationships between the Europeans and the First Nation’s people. You could send your students out looking for information on residential schools as well and then debrief with them about what they did or did not find at the end of the day. I think that asking your students why information is missing in the exhibits is a great teachable moment in which the students could learn about hidden messages or selective messages in the exhibits.

While I found the conversations with my classmates interesting while we walked around the museums, I also found it distracting. Since I had never been to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum before, I wanted to look deeply at all of the displays and read the information, but my classmates had already seen the museum before, so they just kept walking ahead and I felt rushed to even just get a glance at everything.  So, with a groups, I felt like I didn’t really get a good look at everything in the museum that I wanted to. Though, I do think that social interaction can be a huge help towards formal learning because students are able to discuss while they wander around the museum and share their thoughts on what they are seeing and learning. Hopefully then, some of their social interactions with each other will stick with the students rather than only their own thoughts. Hearing other people’s opinions can help you to think deeper about the subjects that you are viewing and hopefully that will help aid in remembering what you talked about at the museum after you leave.

I really like that both the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and the Science Center have guided tours because the guides have knowledge that we as viewers may not find or pick up from just viewing the exhibits by ourselves. I really like that the Science Center has workshops available for almost all ages, but especially for middle years students. I would be interested in taking my class to both the Science Center and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, but especially to a guided Science Center workshop and then leaving the students extra time to roam the Science Center on their own or in groups. I really enjoyed trying a few of the workshops while we visited as a class and I feel like it would be very beneficial to bring my students to the Science Center for one of the workshops. I appreciated that there were so many workshops offered and that they were all topics that would easily connect with the Middle Years curriculum.

Reflection # 3 – POE Process

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Overall, my POE (Predict Observe Explain) science experiment went well. It worked well that I explained a little bit about my experiment and then asked my classmates viewing my booth to actually guess if paperclips floated or not.  After the questions, I got them to try to make the paperclips float in the water by following the instructions for the experiment on my board. Some of my classmates were able to complete the experiment easily, but some needed a little bit more prompting to complete the experiment. As I was explaining my POE to my classmates, I found out that some of them actually thought that paperclips floated and were buoyant. Some classmates even thought that paperclips would float because it was lighter than the water. I think I must have mislead them because they saw pictures of paperclips “floating” on my presentation, but they did not know the science behind the experiment, so they assumed that paperclips would float. I think that most of the people that came to my experiment did not have a lot of prior knowledge of surface tension and that was possibly the reason for their assumptions that paperclips could float on water. Once my classmates were done the experiment, they asked what the science was behind it. It must have seemed too simple for them, but really this experiment is quite interesting because water has a high enough surface tension to hold up objects that are denser and heavier than itself like paperclips.

I think that POE experiments need to have relevant explorations or inquiry after them because there are always more questions that students are going to have about the topic. Students will want to know why and how the experiment worked and they will also want to dig deeper than what was just presented in front of them. They will also want to know if surface tension is the same with other objects or other sizes of paperclips. They will want to investigate further to see if floating paperclips is possible in other liquids or other sizes of bowls. Hopefully students will also want to learn more about the properties in this experiment that made it possible. Hopefully, they will want to know more about buoyancy, forces on objects in fluids, surface tension, density, and even water striders.

After this POE was introduced into a classroom a teacher could discuss many different things with their students. They could go into more detail where one could see surface tension at work. For example, you can see surface tension at work when you see a droplet of water hanging off of a leaf or tree. The surface tension of the water is keeping the water molecules all held tightly together until there is too much water on the tree or leaf that the water droplet will drop. Another discussion that could be talked abut with a group of students, would be to ask them if society has taken advantage of water surface tension or if it is just simply too small of a topic to do anything with. I believe that there is not a lot one can do with surface tension, but it is neat to know that it exists. Probably almost everything that we own would be too big or too dense to take advantage of water surface tension. But it would be beneficial to talk about what the benefits of surface tension are to water striders. There would be more to talk about how it benefits water striders than how it benefits humans. As a future educator, you could also try connecting these ideas to indigenous ways of living in nature and how we need to make sure we do not abuse  nature or the water that we do have. We should teach this because if water is polluted, surface tension may not work. Therefore, water striders would not be able to stride across the water if the water’s surface tension had been tampered with. This would be great to tie into a lesson where you would talk about respecting the environment that we live in.

Reflection #2 – Saskatchewan Science Curriculum

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After looking into the Saskatchewan Science Curriculum, I have found that the Curriculum is asking me, as a science educator, to make sure that my students have an understanding of how the world works and how to develop their scientific literacy. For students to be able to develop their scientific literacy, I, as an educator, have to make sure that I am teaching my students about both the Euro-Canadian and Indigenous heritages, which have both developed an empirical and rational knowledge of nature. As an educator, I must be aware that a Euro-Canadian way of knowing about the natural and constructed world is called science, while the First Nations and Métis ways of knowing nature are found within the broader category of Indigenous knowledge. While discussing both of these ways of knowing, I must also provide my students with multiple opportunities to explore, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, appreciate, and understand the interrelationships among science, technology, society, and the environment that will affect their personal lives, their careers, and their future. While teaching the Science curriculum, I must also make sure that my students are able to: understand the nature of Science and STSE interrelationships; construct scientific knowledge; develop scientific and technological skills; and develop attitudes that support scientific habits of mind.

My overall hope for my classroom full of science students would be that they would be able to know and understand both sides of the ways of knowing (Euro-Canadian and First Nations/Métis) and that they would be able to make their own decisions and attitudes based on what they were learning in my class. My students would hopefully be able to construct an understanding of concepts, principles, laws, and theories in life science, in physical science, in earth and space science, and in Indigenous Knowledge of nature; and then apply these understandings to interpret, integrate, and extend their knowledge. In my classroom, I would weave Indigenous knowledge throughout my science lessons, so that there were connections being made between the two different ways of knowing. I would want to do this in an orderly way that made sense to my students.

In general, I think that it is important for a science educator to be knowledgeable on both the scientific and Indigenous perspectives on nature and how the world became to be so that they can skillfully relay the details to their students. Though, when I say skillfully, I mean in a way that students really want to learn science. According to Goldenburg (2011), students really want meaningful activities that have active learning in their Science classes. Science students are also most engaged and motivated by hands-on activities, group work, and discussions, therefore they value meaningful activities and want more active learning. Students also found it helpful to see an animation instead of learning only from words, static images, or a teacher’s voice when it came to understanding abstract, difficult-to-grasp concepts. Therefore, I would want to craft lesson plans that engaged my students with visuals and hands on learning. I would also help them develop their scientific and technological inquiry, problem solving, and communication skills by assigning them group work that made them collaboratively work together as a team to make decisions and solve everyday problems that involve knowledge about Science.

Reflection #1 – What is Scientific Literacy?

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Why should all students learn science? What does this entail? What are some tensions that exist, or questions that you have, about the purposes of science education? Articulate a personalized view of scientific literacy. What is most important to you and why?

First of all, Science is “the study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation” (Webster). Therefore, I think that Science is a very important subject and needs to be taught in all classrooms. In general, there are many benefits for having Science taught in our classrooms and it is important for all students to learn about because it is important that students are able to gain understanding of our natural world and everything in it, so that they can function in society. Since humans are constantly interacting with our natural world by interacting with the nature around us and the people within it, it is important that all students learn about Science. If humans are constantly interacting with the world around us, we should have a good understanding of how things work by making observations and even experiments to find deeper understanding of our world. I see Science as a way of exploring, investigating, testing and experimenting to learn more about the compositions, interactions, and reactions that occur in our every day lives, so I believe that Science is needed in the classroom.

Second of all, in my experience, I found Science education to be very interesting and enjoyable at school. I have always been interested in “how” and “why” things work the way they do. I have also been fascinated by our world in such a way that I entertain myself by exploring and running experiments. When I was in high school I remember watching Bill Nye the Science Guy in Physics class and I loved watching his crazy experiments and seeing his passion for science. It definitely was an encouragement for me to be involved and interested in science and that was what encouraged me to practice my own experiments at home. As I look back at my past school experiences, I found that my teachers were always excited about science and I think that excitement and passion about Science was what made me excited to learn more about it. Though, I never really saw myself as being a scientist, I knew that anyone could be one. I had many female and male science teachers who were all very knowledgeable and passionate about their work and therefore, I never saw males as being the only ones able to be scientists. I realize now that female scientists were not very well represented in the media.

Third of all, as a future educator, my hope would be to help my students become familiar with scientific language. I would hope that my students would be comfortable talking about science and explaining their experiments and procedures to other students. If a student were to be fluent in scientific literacy, they would be able to articulate their exact steps in their own experiments with others. They would also improve their ability to solve everyday problems and gain a greater understanding of – different perspectives, opinions, and procedures, problem solving methods, our environment, our world’s dynamics, and global politics.

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