I’ve been teaching science for almost a hundred days now, ninety-two days to be exact.
At the beginning teaching science was a huge shift in thinking and I always felt unprepared. But, lately, I’ve been feeling a bit more on top of things. My advanced science students finished their science fair papers, projects, and presentations this past week and all of the presentations are completed AND graded. Now, I just have to pore over their final reports and grade them. The district science fair was last weekend and several of the student’s projects are very good and have the possibility of advancing to the state science fair in early May. I am excited for them, they did all of the work and they own the credit. I was just a shepherd, of a scientific sort.
I have two levels of science – advanced and regular – which means two curriculums and two separate plans. In regular science we’ve been focusing on matter and atoms; and we’ve finally gotten to the structure of the periodic table and how many electrons are in the outer electron shell. It’s really exciting stuff, trust me. In advanced science we are playing with aliens and looking for patterns. Click here for a web version of the activity. ALIENS.
Today was a special day. I began class with a short video clip – from January 28, 1986. I haven’t always been a teacher and I wasn’t a teacher at the time, just a brash young man full of vim and vigor and possibility trying to make his way. I was 24 years old and I remember the day well, very well. I can close my eyes and visualize where I was and what I was doing. I was working in the restaurant business and all of us in the mall just congregated in front of our stores and talked about what we had heard. I was in shock. I believe all of America was in shock.
As my students filed into class, I hustled them into their seats and informed them that we needed to watch a video, I told them it was live, which was a bit of a fib, but I was taking them back 29 years. 29 years ago, science classes across the US were tuned and watching the liftoff of the Challenger. 73 seconds in to the mission…… we know the rest of the story. It wasn’t just a space shuttle mission but a special mission with a science teacher aboard as a crew member. Some of my students knew of the Challenger disaster and we discussed it briefly, one of my science peers was in fourth grade at the time and he recalled watching as only a fourth grader would remember. It was a somber moment in class, and then we moved on and went back to learning – that’s why the Challenger crew did what they did.
Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist
Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander
Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist
Mike J. Smith, pilot
Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist
Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Teacher-in-Space payload specialist
Gregory Jarvis, payload specialist
January 28, 1986
Challenger crew photo courtesy of Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
That’s one of the reasons I teach, so the contributions of the past aren’t lost or forgotten. Learning never ends, just the desire to learn. I hope I never get to that point. Today was a great day and tomorrow promises to be a million and six times better. Trust me, I am a scientist. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.
Do you remember January 28, 1986? What were you doing?
— NASA History Office (@NASAhistory) January 28, 2015