Monday, November 23, 2009

Summer MUSEings...

This August a handful of Rochester Education students, former students and in-service teachers attended a week-long profesional development experience called MUSE. This collaboration between The Minnesota Science Mueseum and Winona State University took these teachers on a journey to understand the link between communication, Discourse and STEM integration. We teachers were challenged to define the nature of science, to question our beliefs about intelligence, to understand inquiry-based learning and to unpack the new science standards in an effort to find connections with other disciplines. All of this happened through authentic experiences that placed the teachers in the place of their students. We learned how to apprentice students into the different Discourses. The experiences were rich with language and tools often unfamiliar to us.

On one field trip to a highway cut on US 52, we measured the height of a columnar section called the Decorah Shelf using an inclinometer and a Jacob Staff. Few of us had ever heard of these tools let alone understood what they were used for, but by having an authentic experience we were able to understand that these tools help geologists understand changes in our area. The experience helped us to understand how the shelf is one of the ways our local drinking water is filtered and the need to preserve it. Think of the learning students could gain from such an experience! What we really took away from the experience was the need to teach students that they are the scientist, engineer, and mathematician and how to bridge those disciplines with language.
The week was filled with similar experiences that pulled in language arts, social studies and community building. I really felt connected to science in an authentic way for the first in my life. It is through these experiences that real meaning is made for students. The week was an amazing opportunity and I sincerely appreciate all involved in making it happen!
Colleen Loy

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