Incorporating the History of Science

In the most recent issue of the Leaders Letter, one of the features includes a discussion about the new NOVA Series which is appearing on PBS. The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers which is developed and produced by PBS as part of the NOVA Series has a wonderful website that provides short informative and inspiring videos of scientists and engineers and how they became involved in their fields.
One of the most famous names that appear in the series is Mayim Bialik who is on The Big Bang Theory.  In her video clip titled “Blossoming to Science” she discusses how she was a child actress who then found a passion for science and how she has managed to merge both her love of science and acting.
In addition to the video clips, there is a teacher resources area for blog posts; teaching tips and other web resources. The index of scientists and engineers can also be sorted by field or “hidden secret” to aid in selecting video clips for use in the classroom.
Even though we are on the edge of having the Next Generation of Science Standards it is important to consider that the National Science Education Standards had an actual standard that focused on the History and Nature of Science which included the pursuit of science by those men and women who have come before the current day.  The connection of personal stories about these scientists often helps students understand the trial and error process, individual sacrifices, and dedication to the content fields that each was involved in over time.
One of the ways I have incorporated the individual contributions of scientists into an elementary classroom is to have students read books about the scientists when they were children – to better understand how the scientists became interested in the topic they eventually studied.  The students need to create sentence strips that would be able to be sequenced (a tie into reading and Common Core for English Language Arts) by other students as part of a biography box.  I have also modeled this activity in teacher professional development workshops where teachers have also commented about how much they learned about the different scientists.  So how do you incorporate the history of science and scientists into your classroom at any level???

Teachers engage in creating biography boxes as part of a professional development workshop.

Teachers engage in creating biography boxes as part of a professional development workshop.

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1 Response to Incorporating the History of Science

  1. These two articles from NSTA Reports might be useful for teachers who want to integrate science and history: “Exploring Science Through History” (from the October 2011 issue) and “Role-Playing Games Feature Scientific, Historical Debates” (from the September 2012 issue). You can find links to both in the NSTA WebNews Digest (access the link on the NSTA homepage).

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