Teachers Get Tips from Field Experts at Super Science Saturdays

Annual event sponsored by National Geographic is designed to show real-world connection between classroom lessons and science careers

October 15, 2012

A teacher examines various types of dirt in order to compare their properties and records to her observations during a breakout session on earth science at Super Science Saturdays.

More than 450 HISD elementary school teachers got some great tips on how to inject excitement into their science lessons when they took part in Super Science Saturdays at the district’s headquarters on Sept. 22 and 29.

The yearly conference is organized and developed by the district’s Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Department and underwritten by National Geographic, which has been bringing in field experts since 2008 to show the real-world connection between science and education.

Participating teachers could choose from about 40 different break-out sessions on topics such as science inquiry, educational technology, best practices, and resources for English-language-learners. The sessions were taught by state and local experts, informal science partners, and HISD’s own teacher development specialists and educators.

Presenter Vanessa Chenault, who serves as the director of curriculum and instruction at the Children’s Museum of Houston, showed participants in her breakout session how to deliver lessons on sound energy and forces of motion using everyday household objects, such as cups, straws, and pencil erasers.

“The great thing about these exercises is that not only are we addressing the same concepts that are covered in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills),” Chenault said, “we’re also helping kids develop the problem-solving skills they need to successfully create bee-buzzers, kazoos, and other objects by figuring out how these things work.”

“We’re preparing kids now for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” she explained. “So what kids need to be able to do is analyze situations and solve problems using the materials they have on hand.”

“Super Science Saturdays has been full of good experiences,” added Northline Elementary School science lab teacher Gloria Hudson. “Presenters were liberal in sharing their tools with us, and I attended the rocketry session with two other teachers from my campus. We’re going to use what we learned there at an upcoming Family Night. It was extremely useful.”