It’s that time of year again. The time of year when the greatest minds of our times receive that magic phone call in the middle of the night, during their dental appointment, or during some other awkward moment with a person sounding like the guy from the IKEA commercial on the other side. It’s the beginning of October, which means that it is Nobel Prize time, people. As bona fide science aficionados with close ties to Sweden, the Swedish Royal family, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences The Rocket Scientists are huge fans of the Nobel Prize hoopla.
Unless you are living under a rock (and a lot of things that are important do live under rocks) the daily announcements of this year’s laureates from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences are hard to miss. Many laureates have remarkable stories to tell about how they got to where they are, some of these stories involve overcoming difficulties and disbelieve in their abilities from people around them. This year’s Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has been awarded to John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for their pioneering work on cloning. John Gurdon’s story, in particular, is remarkable and poignant as images of his, by now, infamous grade 3 report card are spreading rapidly across the internet. Apparently Gurdon did not do so well in biology when he was in grade 3. This is not only irony at its best but it also provides a very important lesson to anyone interacting with children, particularly in an educational setting. Gurdon’s story clearly shows the importance of schools being very cautious and judicious about labelling children with disorders just because they do not fit the mold and push the limits of the teachers/schools/principals patience. While the intentions may be good, e.g. trying to allocate extra resources or accommodation to children struggling in school, the risk of stigma and self-fulfilling prophesies may far outweigh any potential benefits.
When John Gurdon went to school, ADHD had not yet been invented. It was not an available condition and people didn’t know they could have it. If Gurdon had been a grade 3 child some 40 years later someone else might have tried to label him, put him on medication and told him to calm down. Although we do not know what serendipitous events enabled John Gurdon to become on of the greatest minds of our time there is undoubtedly a large number of children in our schools that have been labeled and put on medication just because they march to their own drummer. Sadly many of them may never encounter the fortuitous events that enable Gurdon to develop his talent. As teachers we have the great responsibility for providing all our children with the opportunity of finding and pursuing their talents and passions, no matter what drummer they march to and even when the drummer plays too loud.
Science classrooms are unique learning environments unlike any other classrooms. As a matter of fact, some things only happen in science classrooms. Here is a collection of event that happened in my own science classroom over the last school year. It's a growing list, so check back for updates.
Report from yours truly live-tweeting and navigating the melee at GETCA 2015 (Annual Greater Edmonton Teachers' Conference).
Can a pencil be more than just your average run of the mill pencil? The legendary Palomino Blackwing Pearl can take a student or teacher's writing to new heights. We have taken a batch of the Pearls for a spin and are blown away by how much writing and sketching can be transformed by this unassuming pencil.
Dr. Pineda's Classroom is going YouTube with the release of its first screencast on the exciting topic of calculating percents. Only time will tell if this is the start of something big and shiny or just a passing fad.
After several weeks working on setting up habitats for new classroom animals the big day finally arrived. The newest addition to our classroom include aquatic denizens in our new aquarium and a teenage bearded dragon with lots of attitude and no table manners.