#ecmp455 / Ecmp 455 Major Project

Update on Gather & Gab

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”
-Carl Sagan

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Well after the first week of seeing Gather & Gab in progress (click here to see what Gather and Gab is), I feel as though I should give an update  on where we are at. Randi and I have spent the last few weeks trying to find someone in the science field to Skype (or Google Hangout) into the Chemistry 30 class we are working with. A few weeks ago we found a science teacher, Paul,  in the RPSD who was willing to let us work with him and his class. We met with Paul to find out where he was at in the curriculum and how we could assist him in providing connections to the field of #science and careers within it. We decided that we would work with him to bring in someone to his classroom virtually in the areas of water quality (as the students were doing a lab based on water quality) and the Potash industry (to look at compounds). Through twitter, about.me, and other platforms, we tried to connect with professionals who would fit the area of need and who were interested and passionate about our project. I found a few people throughout the world (one even in Australia) who were willing and interested to help out, but because of time changes, or other issues, were not able to make it work. Finally, we found someone from an environmental company in Saskatoon who was willing and interested to skype in to the classroom. Okay, so we found our teacher/classroom and our professional to connect-now what do we do?

Well we decided it was important to go into the classroom a few days prior to the Skype session to introduce ourselves and the project, and have students brainstorm some ideas and questions so that the session could be interview based with a large amount of student input. I went into the classroom and Randi joined us through Google Hangout. This allowed the students to see what would be happening in the days to come, and allowed us to test the technology we were using. We did an introductory activity with students that allowed them to explore the area of water sampling and ecosystems and had them, as a class, form 8 questions to ask our presenter. The students were interested to have someone Skype in virtually (as it was new to them, and some were even looking into the environmental field as a career) and from their interests they came up with following questions.

1. We think that the term “pollution” is too broad of a term and we want to know specifically what types of pollutants are strongly affecting our province?
2. What regions are most affected by pollutants? (ie: urban vs. rural, beside construction, etc)
3. What is your typical day on the job like?
4. If you find a problem after the testing is done, who is responsible?
5. Do you think the government regulations and standards are too low?
6. What specific materials/indicators do you look for while taking water samples and performing the initial testing you do?
7. How do you test? What methods/tools do you use?
8. Do you get the results back from the lab when you send them? Are you a part of the “after” action that takes place?

Today, we had the Skype session/interview and although I was unable to be int he classroom for it, my colleague and co-partner in Gather and Gab said it went well. The technology worked great, the students asked many follow up questions and although it was only supposed to be a 10-15 minute interview, the students were so interested that it went for about 40 minutes. [Side note: I think it is so amazing that there are people outside of the field of education that understand how important this type of education is to students and are willing to take time out of their day (for free) to Skype in. Thank you!] Randi and I came up with quick write questions to have the students do after the interview to allow us to gauge the benefit of the process and to see what they got out of it. I am excited to read the quick writes and will brief you on them after I have done so. I am interested to see how beneficial it was to the students and if it allowed them to make the connection between science in the classroom and science outside of the classroom.

In two weeks time we will be doing the process over again-this time with someone from the Potash industry. I am excited to see who we can find to Skype in and how the students react to the ideas surrounding Potash, its influence on our province and the career possibilities within it. I will keep you updated and let you know how it goes. I would love to have comments (general, or ideas for improvement) or questions on our project as I believe we learn by discussing ideas and having conversations around areas of improvement!

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