Community collaborations

The Science Teacher cover, April - May 2008At first when I saw this issue, I thought of community partnerships, in which students work with organizations outside of school. But I realized by reading the articles, that the activities and resources also apply to the communities of learners within our own classrooms and to projects that bring people together to learn.
The article Making Science Relevant describes how students can contribute to their communities by working together on water-monitoring programs. A quick search in SciLinks using keywords such as watershed or invertebrates brings up several related websites:

  • I personally cringe when someone uses words such as wacky, crazy, yucky, or creepy when describing living things, but the Wonderful, Wacky Water Critters site is actually good, despite the name. It’s written more for younger students, but if you have secondary students who struggle with reading, this may be just right for them. Among the resources for students of any age is a nice poster of aquatic invertebrates and an online dichotomous key to help students identify and become more familiar with these indicator species.
  • Many sites refer back to The Stream Study. This comprehensive resource from the Izaak Walton League can get you started on doing your own investigation of water quality. I wish I would have had this when I was doing stream studies with my students and at summer science camps. It would have saved me a lot of time making up data sheets and guides!

This article is followed by How Accurate are Student-Collected Data? Recreating this study with your own students could be a neat way to investigate the concepts of reliability and instrumentation. The SciLinks code mentioned in this article TST040802 has a variety of sites, ranging from examples of data sets, online calculators, and one of my favorites Create a Graph to help students organize and display their data.
TYPO ALERT! In the article Cougars and Community, the SciLinks code is incorrect! To get to sites related to “Tracking Animals by Satellite,” use the code TST040801 OK, so there are no lions in your neck of the woods, but the article outlines an action plan for combining student investigations with community action that could apply to a variety of situations.
A decade ago, I had a conversation with a school board member, who believed it was the job of the schools to prepare students for specific jobs. I mentioned that in the area of technology, we would somehow have to prepare students for jobs that didn’t exist yet. This issue’s “Career of the Month,” Graphic Infomation Systems (GIS) Specialist, is an example of such a career. What a fascinating way to combine geography, technology, and data analysis! To find more information on careers, go to SciLinks and use the keyword careers.

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