Unless you are a hardy soul who teaches summer school or professional development, summer brings a break. Not from work but from being in charge of the daily routine. Even if we participate in professional development, at least we are the consumers and not the producers. It makes us appreciate the good ole days of being a student. Summer is the time to work on next year with the luxury of time. This issue presents ideas that involve time for preparation or coordination. Time that November may not provide but summer does.
Beyond time, the articles have another element in common—call it “the buzz factor.” The activities in these articles generate excitement for science both for your students and for the entire school community and beyond. As the authors of these articles can attest, a little buzz goes a long way. Here are some issue highlights:
- Sometimes we want something unusual and motivational to assess or reinforce ideas from our teaching but don’t have time to develop or make it. “Take the Eco-Challenge” helps teachers replicate a board game in which kids “save the world.” Saving the world is always a great idea. I bet two things will happen: the students will practice their new skills, and they won’t even realize it is an assessment.
- What kids don’t love fossils? By first grade many students can recite impressively long and correct names of dinosaurs. But do they know how we came to know about fossils? “They Dig It!” shows how to set up a mock dig in which kids learn about the processes of science. Making inferences can be a difficult process skill to teach yet it is central to science. With a mock dig, however, the process becomes transparent.
- Many young children—and adults—think “science” is for older kids. “Bitten by the Science Bug” reveals just the opposite is true. Seeing that summer camp enrichments were reserved for older kids, the author took action, organizing K–2 science camps at her school. The camps’ tremendous success and her vision then led to science improvements at all grade levels in her district (even preservice educators!), reinforcing that science is indeed for everybody.
- Having organized Family Science events for years, I know they take time and thoughtful planning. “So, You Want to Host a Family Science Night?” is a practical guide for organizing family science nights. These events promote the value of science to parents and community members, excite kids, and help integrate the family into our schools. Why not follow the model, and make your life easier and your school richer?
Of course, all work and no play does not make for a great summer. Sometimes, a good book with a cold drink on a hot day is more the order of the day. In “Renew, Reflect, and Refresh” reviewers from the NSTA Recommends panel offer some thoughtful, eclectic choices for summer reading.
And, why not add The Little Prince (Saint-Exupery 1943) to your reading list? “Lessons from the Little Prince” reveals some amazing connections to science … and reminds us to seek out the creative and even whimsical connections that make life interesting.
Enjoy your summer. We will see you again in the fall. Ready, set, go!