Doing Good Science:
Symposium Presenters

The NSTA Symposium: Doing Good Science took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Hartford, CT, on Friday, October 21, 2005. Fourteen educators were in attendance, representing the states of Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and California.

The two presenters were Dr. Rick Vanosdall and Dr. Olaf Jorgenson, co-authors of the NSTA Press publication Doing Good Science in Middle School. The symposium focused on the topic of inquiry: what it is and how it can be used in the middle school classroom. NSTA would like to thank all the participants and presenters for a job well done!

symposium participants

After a delicious continental breakfast and an introductory administrative session during which Flavio Mendez, Symposia and Web Seminars Program Manager at NSTA, familiarized participants with the contents of their folders (including the agenda, college credit forms, talent release form, and pre-assessment), Rick and Olaf began their presentation by sharing their background and experiences and the reasons why they decided to write the book. They felt that middle school teachers needed a resource that had ideas for inquiry-based activities and the background material necessary to support the teachers doing the activities. During the entire program both Rick and Olaf shared personal stories about their research and their experiences with teachers and students. Their good humor was also appreciated!

The presenters shared two activities from the book, Wrist Taker and Going Nuts! The teachers enjoyed doing both activities. In Wrist Taker, the participants used string to measure different parts of their body: neck, head, knee, and ankle. As they measured these body parts, they collected the data by cutting the exact length of string needed to go around the body part measured. Then they used their wrist as the unit of measurement and wrote down all their measurements in terms of "numbers of wrists." After the activity, the presenters led a discussion about units of measurement and possible extensions that could be done in the classroom.

symposium participants

In the second activity, the participants used nuts to make a histogram. They sorted several dozens of nuts by length, using a ruler to measure, and putting them in similar groups based on length. Again, at the end of the activity, Rick and Olaf led a discussion on the purpose of the activity and potential extensions. Several times during the program, the presenters referred to their book for tables, web sites, or ideas. All participants received a copy of the book for attending the program.

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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press