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Ms. Merk's Teaching Philosophy As a teacher, it is my goal to help my students become scientifically literate.

Science literacy involves being able to make educated claims using evidence. The scientifically literate individual should be able to read something and question the reading, they should be able to evaluate and check for the validity of claims; someone who is scientifically literate is able to think for themselves. Scientifically literate individuals should be able to make evidence-based claims, evaluate, think critically, problem solve and entertain curiosity. Being literate in science is desirable because it creates a yearning for understanding. When students are able to evaluate a claim and check for validity, they are able to make connections to their prior knowledge. In order determine if the claim is valid they will not only research the claim but they will compare the claim with their previous experiences. The students are going to receive new information through a filter of their current understanding of the world. Someone who is scientifically literate will be able to use science to explain many of the phenomena observed in the real world. They will be able to use their own experiences to further question new experiences and new phenomena. Someone who is scientifically literate will be able to problem solve and think critically. In a science class, the students will be faced with a question and they will have to plan and carry out an investigation. The students will develop these skills and then when faced with a problem in real life they will have the necessary skills to find a solution. Recently, the United States, as well as many other countries, have been trying to find an in-expensive alternative to the pollution caused by the combustion of fossil fuel. Fossil fuels are formed from the remains of dead plants and animals, they are buried geologic deposits that can be obtained and converted into useable resources such as natural gas, coal or oil. The emission of carbon dioxide contributes to global warming via the burning of these fossil fuels and when you drive your car and burn gasoline, you are emitting carbon dioxide. The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center has been researching and trying to find a sustainable alternative, one that would use the energy from Earth "today" as opposed to the energy of Earth from millions of years ago. Essentially, instead of obtaining buried geologic deposits from dead plants and animals, we would be developing energyrich plant oils from crops, such as corn Stover. Corn stover consists of the leaves and stalks of corn plants left as residue after harvest. This residue can be converted into a renewable fuel. The burning of this fuel will emit carbon dioxide; however, it was carbon dioxide that would have been emitted into the atmosphere by the decay of the corn stover. Either way carbon dioxide would be emitted; yet, this is different from the burning of fossil fuels because with fossil fuels we are reintroducing buried deposits, emitting additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The scientifically literate person should recognize the benefits of burning biomass from plants that haven't yet decayed and emitted carbon dioxide into the atmosphere vs. burning of fossil fuels that have emitted carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, have been buried and are now reintroducing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The scientifically literate individual should consider the cost and time involved in developing these Biofuels. Is the expense of developing Biofuels worth the potential effects of reduced carbon dioxide emissions on the atmosphere? As of right now, developing Biofuels from corn stovel is expensive. However, with more research funding the developers can try to find sustainable, inexpensive methods of developing the Biofuels. The scientifically literate individual should also question the additional amount of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels vs. Biofuels. Instead of just accepting claims on Biofuels, the scientifically literate individual will research and use evidence based reasoning. They will question, how are scientists able to develop Biofuel from Corn Stover and they will be able to research the effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere and decide if funding for countering the effects of carbon dioxide emissions should be increased. Instead of just voting for an issue based on how they feel about it, the scientifically literate individual will be able to think critically about the issue, decide to increase funding by using evidence and their previous experiences.

In the classroom, I want my students to make discoveries and feel as though they are real scientists. If an experiment doesn't go as planned or they didn't get the results they expected, instead of feeling like they "didn't do the experiment RIGHT," I want the students to find out why they didn't get the results they expected. How do you get a student to stop focusing on always focusing on the "right" answer? Part of this is developing the students curiosity. The students can then use their findings on why they didn't get the desired results and they can problem solve and design a new experiment. The big scientific discoveries haven't resulted from all scientists FIRST experiments, and I want students to not only know this but apply this idea to their own work in class. Encouraging students to act like scientists in the classroom will help move the students' focus away from "being RIGHT" and instead problem solving and thinking critically, which helps develop curiosity. It is my goal for my students to use their previous experiences to make connections and think critically about the world they live in; but how does a teacher accomplish this? By asking the students to predict the outcome of a lab or demonstration, the students can draw on their prior experiences. They can relate the new information they are learning to the information they have already learned. I can also pick topics such as Biofuels to relate the material to the students lives. The students will all be familiar with putting gas in cars in order to travel from point A to point B. Do those students know how the car uses gasoline in order to travel? Do the students know where this gasoline even comes from? All of these ideas can be addressed in a chemistry class and relate to the students lives. If we start addressing these ideas in chemistry, the students will start to become curious about the world around them. Once we discuss gasoline, we can discuss the development of Biofuels. Comparing the strength of different chemical bonds and the energy released or absorbed by making or breaking these bonds will help the students understand the different processes involved in developing Biofuels from corn stover. As a teacher, it is my job to facilitate students' learning. It is also my job to help students make connections between material we cover in class and the students lives. By making the material relevant to the students' lives, the students are able to make connections and explain what they observe in the world using scientific explanations. In order to help students think critically and problem solve, I will teach through inquiry. Part of inquiry involves students completing hands-on activities - making discoveries about the content on their own. If the teacher just "tells" the student the material, the student isn't able to use the results from an activity to make a discovery. In order to make the discovery, the students will have to use evidence and models to support their ideas. They will have to develop critical thinking skills and these skills can be used in all aspects of their lives. If you are teaching through inquiry, how can you, as the teacher, tell if the students are making the discoveries you want them to make? Formative assessment is a wonderful tool that can be used to evaluate student understanding. Strategies as simple as walking around the classroom and listening to the discussions happening between students can help you, as the teacher, gauge student understanding. Another strategy is to have students fill out "exit-slips" as they leave the classroom. By filling out these exit slips, it allows the students to reflect on what they learned that day and also allows you to gauge their understanding. As a teacher, it is my goal to create an environment where students feel like scientists. I hope to create a classroom where the students are fostering their curiosity, using evidence and previous experiences to explain phenomena and learning how to problem solve. Part of creating this environment is by making student ideas the central theme of the classroom. The students will start focusing on "why," they got the result they did, rather than getting the right answer. Instead of just telling the students the content, I will teach through inquiry and can help students make discoveries by facilitating their learning and helping them become scientifically literate individuals.