Day 8

Day 8: Presentations
This is Amanda (teacher) blogging. I wanted to comment on the solid pedagogical structure of this program. Kids have been hands-on, literally digging in to ant mounds to discover the complex structure and relationships of the ant colonies. They have had to work with a group to develop a research plan (lots of collaboration, compromise, and development of leadership skills). They had to present their research plan--in front of a full professor, two grad students, 4 teachers, and Dr. John Doleman. Nobody took it easy on them. They were asked difficult questions and had to really think about how to defend their plan. Students were then guided by Dr. Pinto, Allan, and Ibrahim toward super solid experiments with positive and negative controls. They had to learn to deal with time and resource constraints. They had to deal with the difficulties of field research when you don't have control over everything (like whether it's going to rain). They felt real time pressure and often worked late into the night to make up for time lost to experimental flaws or other problems. Dr. Pinto worked with each group to run the statistics on their experiment. And then, today, they presented their findings. Ibrahim, Allan, and Dr. Pinto helped structure the presentations so that kids presented in a very professional manner -- with introductions, background, experimental design, controls, findings, recommendations for future research, and acknowledgments. Again the kids had to answer questions from the group and defend their work, this time with much positive feedback so that they walked to lunch feeling like the real scientists they were this week. It was a LOT of hard work. There were frustrations and meltdowns. But they did it!


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