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Improving STEM Content for K-6 Grades in Coastal Rural Schools in Oregon
University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology

(1) Presenting difficult science concepts so that five year olds can understand them helps me to understand how to communicate science better in general. A great day is when I ask the meaning of a difficult word, and a majority of the children confidently state the answer from the rocky intertidal vocabulary we have accumulated throughout the year. (2) I’ve learned to organize my time effectively and also to be very adaptable in how I spent my time as I plan and carry out lessons. I have become proficient at adjusting things or asking my third graders if they feel that there was something that would have made our experiment easier. (3) After observing sea urchins (a focus of my researcy), I asked students to design experiments that would help them learn something new about these invertebrates. Four of the students wanted to find out if sea urchins would pick up rocks. (This was after they had put a sea star, a predator of urchins, into the tank.) This experiment gave some exciting results when two urchins covered themselves with rocks in response to sea star scent. It was exciting for all of us. (4) I believe that teachers and students benefit most if the fellow’s lessons are incorporated into the regular science curriculum. I have developed lessons on marine science to help sixth graders understand their physical science curriculum: a) pinniped adaptations to investigate insulative properties of various materials, b) processes of the coral reef to investigate chemical reactions and properties of liquids, and c) using shark sensory adaptations to investigate electricity. (5) The ability to articulate complex scientific ideas to elementary students has allowed me to become a more skilled and confident public speaker. Also, since we work directly with educators, my ability and willingness to disseminate the results of my personal research to the public has greatly improved.

Project URL: http://uoregon.edu/~oimb/Academics/GK12/

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