Thursday, June 25, 2015

Skype-A-Scientist Week

As a 5th grade science teacher, one thing that is always on the forefront of my mind is how I can make the content relevant to my students. For the past two school years I have used Skype to bring in guest speakers to share about their profession and to answer my students questions. During the 2014-2015 school year my students Skyped with an entomologist when we studied the life cycle of a butterfly, an employee from the NASA's Kennedy's Space Center during our Earth and Space Unit and Sylvia Earle, a world-renowned oceanographer, as we studied about the impact of humans on the world's oceans and marine life.

At the end of the school year my students participated in Skype-A-Scientist Week. We had the privilege of Skyping for 30 minutes with four scientists from various fields on four consecutive days. Each scientist took about 10 minutes at the beginning of the call to explain a little about his/her profession. Then my students asked the following questions of each scientist (so their answers could be compared and contrasted at the end of the week):

-Why did you choose this profession?
-What education or background experience did you need for your profession?
-What is your current position/role?
-What is a time where you had to persevere to reach your goal?

 Finally, at the end of each call, the students were able to ask their own questions until it was time to say goodbye.

Here are some pictures from each of the calls:

1.)  Roller Coaster Engineer - Adam House  @GreatCoasters

2.) Mariane Biologist - Founder of Sharks4Kids - Jillian Morris @BiminiSharkGirl   @Sharks4Kids

3.) Paleontologist  - Matt Borths    @MattBorths   @PastTimePaleo

*Matt and two of his colleagues made this video for my students to watch prior to the call!

4.) Geophysicist -  Mika McKinnon   @MikaMcKinnon

Each scientist shared great information about his/her profession and I can't thank them enough for the time and enthusiasm that they put into each call. If you would like to conduct a similar week or if you would like to Skype in guest speakers throughout the school year here are some suggestions:

Create a Skype in the Classroom account.  If you are new to Skype in the Classroom,  search for fields in science that fit with your content area.  Send them a message on Skype to begin to set up the call.

Search for scientists on Twitter.  In order to find two of the contacts above, I just typed in their profession, "roller coaster engineer" or "geophysicist" in a Twitter search. You may want to look up other hashtags too that relate to your content. (Ex. #scichat and ask other teachers who may have contacts that could Skype)

BE RELENTLESS. Sometimes contacts don't reply, timing doesn't work or conflicts arise. If you want to provide this type of opportunity for your students, you can make it work! If one scientist can't Skype, ask for a recommendation of a colleague who could be interested.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about conducting a series of Skype calls such as Skype-A-Scientist Week.  If you are interested in Skyping with your students, here are some other posts that may interest you:

My Skype Challenge

Um, Skype is blocked??? (and other issues)

My First Skype Mystery - Figuring out how to Skype

Answer The Call

Windows to the World (Global Classroom) 

Good luck,
Arin Kress
@ArinKress on Twitter.

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