Give a scientist a sensor…
(a reflection on hosting a pro-d event)
I recently hosted my first ever professional development event. Usually, at the local level, there aren’t many opportunities for science types. There just aren’t enough of us and we specialize so there isn’t much common talk beyond ‘how can we get the students to love and learn science more?’. That is why I went out of comfort zone to host an event on sensors. I’m still not an expert on my physics equipment from PASCO let along the sensors for the other branches but I thought it was worth the shot.
How do I do a pro-d event that engages the audience? How could I hook the teachers in attendance? The answer was easy. Not for me to stand there and talk at them. No! They needed to do science! They needed to use the sensors. So, that’s what we did.
I set up several stations in my room. One for physics, one for bio, one for chem and outside for earth science. Each station required the use of an appropriate sensor (motion, CO2, pH and weather) and a task. I gave them as little instruction as possible beyond how to use SPARKVue. I wanted them to experience what their students would.
I expected only my department to show up. That is still 13 people. I had middle school and elementary teachers show up as well. How would they do? The hours flew by. I didn’t need to worry about filling the time; we needed more. There was a buzz that you don’t hear at staff meetings. They were engaged. They were loving it. They were hooked on sensors.
What I loved most was the talk on how they could use it for their classes. I wanted to get their ideas because they would know better than I. Every teacher left with an idea on how the sensors could be used…if only we had more.
When the day was over I was asked to host more of these. It was very easy to say yes.