Via MƒA blog: Students need More Access to Authentic Science Research Programs
Every month MƒA features an opinion piece written by teachers in the MƒA community via MƒA Teacher Voices. This blog post was published by MƒA on August 11, 2016. For the complete article, click here.
In this article, four teachers in New York public schools discuss the value of Genes in Space and having students participate in "authentic inquiry science". They are Camila Lock, Michael Pedicini, Jessica Quenzer, and Marisa Wagner. Excerpts from their article follow.
"Genes in Space challenged our students to conceive of and develop ideas for original research to be performed on the International Space Station (ISS), probing a biology question that requires PCR in space. We were attracted to this competition because it provided a relevant, real-world application for our students’ ideas. What an inspiration to think that your research project could be aboard the ISS! Students were excited to know that their experimental plans could boldly go where no woman or man has gone before, with the potential to have meaningful impact on our scientific body of knowledge."
"The beauty of authentic science opportunities like Genes in Space is the accessibility to all students regardless of whether or not their school has a multi-year research program. Research within the confines of the school walls is often limited by availability of time, money, and laboratory resources. This lends itself to stale research topics like “The Effect of Light Wavelength on Plant Growth.” Having students do these types of projects to learn the scientific process is valuable. But let’s be honest – our students will find out what their results should be by searching the internet. The experiment ends up being a verification of what is already known. In contrast, Genes in Space and similar programs provide opportunities to all students, regardless of resource availability, to participate in original research – explorations that can lead to new and unexpected results. We strongly feel that for students to really get excited about and learn science, they must be provided access to authentic science experiences like Genes in Space."