Written by; Jenny McQueen, director outreach
We are continuously inspired by the young women in BC who are starting science clubs and initiating conferences. We want to foster this leadership and have thus launched a new program to send science workshop kits to science clubs and science conferences throughout Canada. Our inaugural workshop kit was tested this past December by a science club at Frank Hurt Secondary School in Surrey. Becca Lim, our brave test pilot, ran a workshop on the scientific process. Becca had been a participant in this workshop when it was run at Science Expo in November.
In this workshop, participants are asked to figure out the inner workings of a “whatchamacallit” tube. Participants can explore it any way they would like without opening it. At the end of the workshop the question is posed, “is this like doing science?”. I will let Becca explain what happened.
“When asked about the process they followed that day compared to the process taught in school, many agreed that they followed the same general pattern, but this activity was not as formal, and was more realistic to what everyday scientific thinking is like. For example, they came up with a hypothesis by tinkering with the tubes, and once they built their design, they could decide if their hypothesis was supported or not – but they weren’t consciously moving through a step-by-step process or writing up a lab report.
Something I noticed was the similarity between their designs and the designs students created at Science Expo. The more people’s ideas seem to agree with other’s ideas, the closer to the actual solution I think we come.”
What I like about Becca’s observations is that she has pinpointed two parts of science that are often overlooked in high school science classes. Hypotheses are usually developed after a bit of playing around, making observations and acquiring knowledge. Arriving in a science class with a carefully pre-selected hypothesis doesn’t give students a chance to come up with a question to test. Which can be an exhilarating and deeply personal part of doing science. The second observation made was that by sharing ideas they got closer to a better answer which highlights an essential part of the scientific process. The culture of sharing information through conferences, meetings, posters, publications and even over coffee is critical to doing good science.
Becca also gave us some great feedback that will help us make these workshops easier and more engaging. If you are interested in us sending you a workshop kit please contact [email protected].