from the EDITOR’S desk
Many teachers are challenged to stretch their supply dollars to cover lab activities. While this can be challenging, teachers are incredibly resourceful and creative people who are driven to overcome such obstacles so that their students can benefit. While some teachers write grants, others submit requests to Donor’s Choose or rely on donations to supplement skimpy or nonexistent budgets. All of this takes time away from our real work, which is that of educating the next generation of voting citizens— citizens who need to be well-informed and scientifically literate if they are to rely on knowledge rather than opinion when voting intelligently on issues.
According to the NSTA Position Statement “The Integral Role of Laboratory Investigations in Science Instruction,” “for science to be taught properly and effectively, labs must be an integral part of the science curriculum” and “all middle level students should have multiple opportunities every week to explore science labs” (NSTA 2007). This vision requires that all students have access to adequate lab facilities. In addition, teachers require a budget for regular maintenance of facilities and equipment and to cover the costs for new or replacement equipment and supplies. Garnering administrative support that ensures labs are conducted in an adequate facility is crucial to ensuring that all students develop proficiency in the science and engineering practices within a science discipline context (NSTA 2007).
Too many of the laboratories in our K–12 schools are either obsolete or underfunded, which is a disservice to both students and our nation. A continued reliance on the subpar infrastructure of science classrooms and laboratory facilities may be partially responsible for the unsatisfactory scores our students receive on international assessments such as the TIMSS. This issue of Science Scope features ideas and investigations focusing on budget-conscious labs as the theme. Although the design and implementation of such activities is laudable, as is seeking out grants and alternative funding for science equipment, perhaps our real focus should be to convince our communities to wholeheartedly support science education.
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2007. The integral role of laboratory investigations in science instruction. NSTA position statement.
Motz, L.L., J.T. Biehle, and S.S. West. 2007. NSTA guide to planning school science facilities. 2nd ed. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association Press.
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