Blog Post Number One – An Overview
For Science Delivered’s first blog post, I wanted to do something a little different than I imagine subsequent blog posts will be. This post is an introduction to myself and the company – you can find a lot this information throughout the website, but for potential supporters and collaborators interested in more detail, please look no further!
The idea for Science Delivered was conceived while training for my Ph.D. I realized how enjoyable outreach was and found I had a knack for simplifying information for younger children. I also have always been passionate about social issues. Eventually, in August 2014, I made the tough decision to leave research (which I do love) to create this company. At the time of writing this post, Science Delivered, located in San Diego, is in its earliest stages and I am so excited to see what the future has to bring.
So what is Science Delivered?
Science Delivered is a mobile science lab that provides ‘science classes’ to elementary school students. Our programs can be thought of as in-school field trips. We offer about ten different classes, most of which can be modified for different ages (even adults enjoy most of our activities :) ). We focus on optimizing fun and learning.
Benefits of science education
There is nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from understanding a “hard” concept. Or understanding the principles behind an object that you use everyday. All kids have seen batteries, but how many of them can explain what they actually do? How many kids know why it is windy by the sea? But kids can understand these concepts!
We want to teach kids things they are excited to tell their parents at dinner.
We want to help kids to understand the world they live in.
We want our students to feel confident and good and smart, and to be excited to learn more.
There is a saying about education, ‘The rich get richer’. This means, if you know a little about a concept, it is much, much easier to learn a lot about it than if you start from nothing. To continue the metaphor, we want to start our students a savings account. The bits of knowledge we give them can grow and flourish over time. And we do this by…
…making our lessons sticky
Not literally (expect where we make slime with seeds). But I still remember the biology lesson a decade ago where my professor walked around the lecture hall with dental floss to show us the scale of DNA is a cell. That image stuck in my head and popped up whenever I thought of DNA. Hopefully, a decade or two from now, our students will sit in their dorms rooms saying, ‘I remember when that science lady showed us a real sheep brain’.
We embrace - and then go beyond - ‘classic science'
Do any students do the classic volcano science experiment anymore? They should – because it’s a classic for a reason! That being said, we expand beyond what people might think of when they hear ‘science.’ We have a program, ‘Health and the Human Body’ where students learn why they love sugar so much and just how much sugar is in that Mountain Dew from the vending machine. We teach about psychology – we show how easy it can be to ‘implant false memories’ (which happens all the time with eye witness identification) and other counter-intuitive aspects of the mind. Such instruction can help build empathy and even help students if they encounter their own mental health struggles. Finally, we have a critical thinking class, as the basis of science is critical thinking. Here students look at information on the news and internet to help them figure out when to ‘believe what they read’!
Let’s be straight – we have made wonderful terrific advances in our country, but there is still this idea of ‘science for boys’. It starts young. When I was looking for bedding for my now nine-month old son, everything related to science and technology was ‘boy colored’, rocket ships, trains, space, even animals!
Many, many studies have shown that if you tell girls that ‘girls are bad at math', and then give them a math test, they actually have lower scores than girls not given that information. The same thing goes for telling children that their ethnicity underperforms in a subject. Yet children get these destructive messages all too often. Children are perceptive, and while many of the negative messages might be subtle, they are constant.
Science Delivered understands that representation and encouragement matter and we aim to do our part in counter-acting negative societal messages. We aim to spend time at schools where kids have fewer educational opportunities and also will incorporate a short science history activity, called Beyond Einstein, into most programs. Here students will learn about the diverse group of people who have contributed to our STEM knowledge base.
Some principles we use in devising our programs:
~ Activities will be safe, fun and instructive.
~ Students will learn a new word or two, but we will never overwhelm with jargon.
~ Programs are amenable to student and teacher feedback.
~ Activities in any particular program will tie into a central scientific principle.
~ Programs are scaled to be age appropriate.
~ Programs can be modified to fit into certain curricula.
Thank you for reading! If you are interested in a visit from Science Delivered, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (don't forget the dash!). If you are interested in providing support please go here.