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Scientists help middle school students find direction

11:53 AM, May 9, 2010   |    comments
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"I guess middle school has kind of been pin-pointed at the point where people deviate where students decide that science and math is something they're interested in," said Frank, a graduate student in biology at the University of Colorado Denver.

Frank is one of eight resident scientists placed in schools around the Jefferson County and Englewood districts. Its part of a National Science Foundation GK-12 Grant called Transforming Experiences. The grant totals $2.9 million over five years. This is year two of the agreement with the University of Colorado Denver.

"(Students) will tend to discuss a lot of stuff with us that they won't necessarily discuss with their teachers," said Frank. "And, if they actually have outside interest in science, they'll bring it up."

Frank's mission is to create interactive lessons so students can see how math and science apply in the real world. This week, he's helping students at Creighton Middle School in Lakewood put together a "Science of Survival" guide.

First step, Frank teaches students how to make a compass using a needle, magnet, and a cork. Then, he teaches them how to navigate through a course of clues across the school grounds.

"We usually do a lesson and then go outside and you kind of get to see how it works and it makes more sense," said Marie Gillcrist, 8th grader at Creighton Middle School.

Students say it's better to learn by doing, by making mistakes, and by learning from them.

"It's a fun way to learn," said Chris Ferson, 8th grader at Creighton Middle School. "You could do something where you're not just reading it out of textbooks."

Frank says it caters to kinesthetic learners.

"Normally, they're kind of confined to their seat," said Frank. "This is an opportunity for them to run around and hopefully actually apply some of the knowledge."

He hopes that his work will persuade some kids to go into math science fields. So far, he believes that it is working.

"I do and far more than I thought I would have at the beginning," said Frank. "There's a lot more interest than I thought."

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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