Last Friday Michael O’Rourke and I presented the Toolbox Project to the Kellogg Biological Station’s GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project.
This project is Michigan State’s program (funded by the National Science Foundation) that puts Graduate STEM students in K-12 classrooms. We got to hear about some of the exciting experiments on bioenergy sustainability that they are doing with the kids to help teach how science is done (as opposed to just conveying scientific findings).
Michael and I presented the Toolbox methodology and ran the grad students through an abbreviated Toolbox Workshop. Since the graduate students come from a variety of STEM fields, what their doing is a kind of interdisciplinary endeavor, albeit pedagogical instead of research. We had them complete Toolbox modules on the purpose of science and confirmation and then dialogue on those topics. As we hoped, a variety of views were expressed. As they talked, several of them verbally expressed that articulating their assumptions about science grew harder as the dialogue proceeded. This was precisely our goal, as we believe it will help them as science communicators.
After the presentation and workshop, we discussed with the grad students the possibility of using the Toolbox method for facilitated dialogues in the classroom (with modified, easier prompts) or for training K-12 science teachers. Both ideas were well received and the grad students gave some great feedback and ideas. Both of these would be exciting new avenues to expand the Toolbox into and we may have updates next term on our efforts.