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Understand Your Role in Science Education

Improving Science Education

Scientists bring their personal science experiences into the classroom, supplementing and enhancing standard education.

Beyond the Classroom

There are many ways that you can contribute to improving science education.

  • Invite science teachers to participate in special lectures, demonstration programs, or tours.

  • Interact with science educators.

  • Distribute materials, such as information, brochures, reports, surplus journals, books, or equipment from laboratories and professional organizations, to science teachers in local school systems.

  • Participate in programs developed by science educators to upgrade science education for students in general and the gifted, in particular.

  • Get involved in efforts to raise public awareness of the role of science and mathematics in contemporary society.

  • Encourage involvement and provide recognition for colleagues and employees who become involved in efforts to enhance primary and secondary school science programs.

  • Volunteer as a:
    • Speaker in a visiting scientist program or a speaker's bureau.
    • Advisor to teachers, boards of directors of educational programs, teacher preparation committees, or students.
    • Workshop participant in short courses, training sessions, part of an academic course, or curriculum development.
    • Worker in efforts to inventory surplus supplies, or equipment to be loaned or given to local schools.

Plan the Process

Research has identified factors that influence students in selecting courses in mathematics and science, particularly among young women and members of minority groups. In addition to achievement in previous educational experiences, individuals are more likely to continue their mathematics and science education if they have general interest in "things," rather than primarily in "people." Students need exposure to "things," that is: they need to manipulate objects in the laboratory or classroom if they have not had that experience at home. It is this experience that gives them the self-confidence to succeed in the sciences.

You can be the resource that brings students in contact with objects of science either by relating experiences to them or by arranging to bring items directly into the classroom for the students to handle.

Leave an Impression

People learn through involvement. Learning is not passive in nature. People do not learn from words; they learn from experiences that pay off. Therefore, opportunities should be provided for the person to be actively involved in the learning process. If learning is to be retained, one must have an opportunity to repeat what has been learned. There have been many different studies on how much a person retains after a learning activity. Although the results may vary slightly from one study to another, they are always startling. The general loss, which occurs in one hour, is about 55 percent of information learned and in one week the loss increases to 75 percent. As a result, if learning is to be effective, it must be put to use. Any information that you wish the student to retain should have a mental, physical, or emotional activity attached to the learning process. Keep this in mind when preparing the lesson to be learned and remembered.

People learn in small doses; therefore, presenting information in simple steps in sequence allows students to absorb information in small bites. Observe changes in thinking and behavior, to evaluate your success in reaching your intended audience.

  • Learning should move from the easy to the more difficult. The subject matter covered ought to move from the known to the unknown. People need to see some connections between the old and the new, the familiar and the unfamiliar.

  • Learning should start slowly at first and build momentum as the learner experiences success in the activity.

  • Learning should involve all of the senses. It has been established that 80 percent of what we know has been picked up through our eyes. Consequently, visual, and audio aids help the learning process.

Reach the Intended Audience

Your subject matter must be presented at a level the students can understand. It must appeal to the gender and makeup of the audience and be sensitive to the multicultural background of the students to maintain their interest.

Readability Level

The reading level of written material to be presented to students must be at an appropriate level of difficulty. The reading material can also be used to evaluate the level of vocabulary for an oral presentation.

To test written material for the level of vocabulary, take three 100-word samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the printed material. Count the number of sentences and divide into 100. Count the number of words that have 3 syllables or more and add that number to the above. Multiple that number by .4 to get the vocabulary grade level of the material.


Geneticists study all aspects of genes. The study of the modes of gene transmission from generation to generation is broadly called transmission genetics, the study of gene structure and function is called molecular genetics, and the study of gene behavior in populations is called population genetics. These form the three major subdivisions of the field of genetics, although, as with all categories invented by humans, the subdivisions are to a certain extent arbitrary and there is considerable overlap. It is the knowledge of how genes act and how they are transmitted down through the generations that has unified biology; previously, specific sets of biological phenomena had each been regulated to separate disciplines.

In this sample you can see that there are only four sentences in the 100-word passage and 26 words with three syllables or more. (100 ÷ 4 = 25; 25 + 26 = 51; 51 x .4 = 20.4) this calculates to be above college level. The thing to remember when preparing either written or oral material is to keep the sentence structure simple and the three syllable words to a minimum.

Have the Goals of the Interaction Clearly in Mind

What the learner should:

  1. Know (i.e., information, facts, principles)
  2. Apply from the knowledge gained (i.e., work habits, or skills)
  3. Develop or change about her/his attitude (i.e., feelings about things and people)

These goals should be reachable in the time allowed.

Last updated: April 19, 2012