August 14, 2012

Connecting Through Science


Connecting Through Science - Participant Story - Teachers for Global Classrooms Connecting Through Science - Participant Story - Teachers for Global Classrooms
Randy French teaches middle school science in western New York State and recently travelled to Ghana with the Teachers for Global Classrooms program; where he spent a week at the Accra Girls school.  Asked about the importance of globalizing science content, Randy responds, “Science is a vehicle to get kids curious about the world, and to learn to think critically.”

Randy has taken advantage of many programs that link schools internationally, but he is optimistic that the linkage begun with his Ghana trip will endure.  He is “hoping, because of the personal connections established on this trip, that there will be follow-through, unlike [other] programs…where contact might be once, or at best sporadic.  Having the exchange program alumni as local partners helps, because they were here in the U.S. and understand where we are coming from,”

He hopes to develop a number of collaborative projects around global science issues like malaria prevention or water quality monitoring.  “The potential to win a mini-grant is a good idea; it is motivation to continue relationships begun in the TGC program,” says Randy.

What most impressed Randy about the students he met in Ghana was how much they achieve with limited technology and a lack of reliable electrical power. 

“The curriculum was very advanced for the large number of kids in each class,” says Randy. “I was surprised at the level of content.” 

The highlights of Randy’s trip were the informal gatherings with students or teachers.  “We talked in large groups, in small groups, and individually,” says Randy.  “We rode buses together for nine hours.” He showed the Ghanaian girls photos of his class, and they made plans to exchange videos on science and culture.

Randy organized his first video project in a class of 90 students he led at the school. 

“I talked about some similarities and differences between our two cultures,” says Randy.  “Then I divided them into small groups to develop questions they would ask my students on video; questions about our food, about our dress, or other subjects they were curious about. My seventh graders in New York State made a video on human body systems and we showed it to the girls in Accra.  In Ghana the students will make a video on the same subject and compare.” 

Randy is also thinking about the students’ future careers in science and the importance of thinking globally. “The culture affects the science.  You have to know the culture in order to apply the science,” says Randy. “My students have no exposure to businesses with people around the world.“When they go to work, international communication and collaboration will be the norm.”

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