Doing Good Science:
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!
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.
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
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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press