The school year is a precious time for my students to learn and to grow as individuals. As we approach the end of the school year I can’t help but reflect upon what has transpired in my classroom with respect to learning. I focus on the positive things that I can point to where I feel that I made a difference in the lives of the kids that I help to educate.
I have always been impressed by Maria’s tenacity to work out challenging problems or to reason out possible solutions. In my physical science classes she is one of the few students that consistently exemplify an intrinsic intellectual curiosity to learn new things.
When I design new projects or consider new avenues into doing inquiry in the classroom, I will often measure how students like Maria will adapt their thinking to this process of doing science. I still labor over creating projects that provide challenges and needed outcomes that will produce successful inquiry experiences. It is the challenge, the focus, the feedback and the desired outcomes that make for great projects. This year, Maria’s writings on the science that she completed in class have been expressive and detailed. Her experimental analysis is thorough and her emotional connection genuine.
During this school year I have focused upon the female perspective of doing science in my physical science classes. Female students, like Maria, harbor unique characteristics that skilled and thoughtful pedagogy can help to bring forth and provide the support for great achievement in the science classroom. Enthusiasm and interest in science are quickly galvanized when opportunities to do projects present themselves. The intensity in their eyes, their smiles and the intellectual curiosity expressed in discussions are all excellent indicators of a solid learning experience.
After two days of construction, Maria ignited the electric power stored in batteries which fuels her electric car and causes the wheels to spin with a high frequency whine. She breaks into a wide grin that says, “Hey look at this accomplishment”! Then fresh from this mechanical achievement, she races the prototype model down the hallway making observations and inquiry, while flushed with success.
Building these solar powered cars is a challenging experience for students. The powerful success story expressed here is shown by Maria’s ability not only to relate concepts in physics to the car’s performance, but also to now utilize her newfound personal attributes and abilities to do science. The sense of accomplishment and the feeling of autonomy that are created here are some of the most important aspects of this year-end project. It provides students, like Maria, with experiences that will help to positively shape the way they feel about themselves and where they see themselves going in life.
Doing science can be a very liberating act because it helps to define who you are; it provides opportunity to showcase your abilities, while using the personal attributes to reach for challenging and worthwhile goals. Science develops both personal resilience and a commitment to achievement. At the end of this school year, Maria and other students like her are ready to move on with a greater sense of the possibilities for themselves and of what they can hope to achieve.