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Amanda Conner

December 21st, 2017


Seminar Reflection #11

Creating STEM Identities in the Classroom

Wendy stood up a told us with confidence, “science is becoming a way of knowing”. I


immediately knew it would be a great seminar based on how much my teacher beliefs
resonated with Wendy’s statement. Our opening conversation began with the topic of the gap
between the people of the future and the people we prepare right now. I’ve felt this way from the
first time I had the desire as a researcher to become a teacher. It always felt as if there was a
gap between the mindset and culture around science and the way ideas were communicated. I
knew there had to be a better way than keeping a fixed mindset about following the same
protocol that every prestigious scientist before your time practised because ‘they did it best’ and
that was just the way you were supposed to do it. There has been no wiggle room in the science
research community that allows for change because that is how things have been done, done
well, and will continue to be. In the Marine Science field, there has always been an a specialist
for each part of the problem you are trying to solve. There’s a geologist who knows how to
answer one part, an inorganic chemist who can solve another piece, and the biologist who
answer another part. Rarely will you ever find a collaborative environment where there’s a
scientist who does specialize in multiple aspects, and collaborates with others to solve
problems. Research is a very ‘stick to your own lab’ environment.
Well, if every scientist knows that change is constant (and inevitable), why haven’t we
taken this into account when dealing with STEM education? Science needs innovative,
collaborative, and creative thinkers. I think scientists know that we need a change in the way we
think, but defining and actually applying that change will be the only true way that we can
change the way we work together. Designing classroom environments where the product of the
workshop model is not just about the outcome, but about the process that students learn is what
will develop our next best scientists and help bridge the gap between the people of our future
and the people that we prepare. By implementing the techniques from the Engineering Design
Room Process (EDRP), opportunities for creative problem solving will arise and students will be
able to work more independently and collaboratively. The ERDP includes iteration,
communication, defining, identifying, brainstorming, selection, prototyping, and testing. By
setting myself as a model for my students I will show in my classroom that students will be able
to say “I disagree with myself” with the understanding that it is okay to make mistakes.
Students will be given a problem question with ‘think time’ before collaboratively working in
groups to solve a problem.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is an excellent resource to use as a
reference for science and engineering practices in the classroom. In contrast to the common
core standards as a goal-oriented and slightly commanding verbiage, NGSS is more process-
oriented standards. The Implications of the Vision of the Framework is a great exemplar of what
the NGSS’s purposes are within the future of STEM education. By using NGSS, science
education will involve more hands-on conducting of investigations, problem solving, lab
journaling, more direct literacy comprehension with primary sources (science journals, articles,
etc.), and students producing their own presentations/final products of experimentation with
posters. There are more practices that can be viewed in the resource mentioned in the
references section of this reflection.
Most importantly, I want to model the way I am a researcher for the students so that they
have a real time understanding of the professional process behind what it means to be a
scientist. It’s important to ask yourself the question “What kind of example am I today?” before
teaching in the STEM environment. What are my beliefs as an educator and how do I cultivate
these in my students? By understanding your teacher belief, you reflect that belief in your
behavior, which gives a learner experience, and leads to the learners identity. An idea as far as
starting to understand your students and developing a STEM classroom culture: inverting the
teacher/learner process By observing your students during work time you can see what their
own student beliefs are. Mending these previous notions of old beliefs is a great start to a STEM
culture.

Works Cited:
https://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/default/files/resource/files/NewVision.pdf