Eco-Evo Lab goes back to middle school for a day

Now that I’m only I’m taking one seminar and teaching one class (woohoo!), I joined Zoë in being a judge at a local middle school’s science fair. (See her post about last year’s fair).

One thing I took away from her experience last year was that it was obvious that some students had scientist and/or wealthy parents (the two are not mutually exclusive, it turns out) that influenced the quality of their projects.

So, upon receiving judging guidelines before the event, I was happy to see a note to the judges that instructed us to “please consider how well available resources were used” and that “made the most of limited resources” was one of the awards we could nominate a student for. Especially in this age of funding, I believe we should promote kids’ creativity given limited resources- partially because if they want to become researchers, this will be a component of their future.

"The mind has its own logic but does not often let others in on it."

We were treated to lunch with the science teachers, which was really fun and eye-opening. Many of us spent time talking to one of the biology teachers, Darshana Shah, who informed us that she teaches 7th graders the same things Melissa teaches to her Introductory Biology II labs at CSUN! We were even more impressed when we learned that she does this- by herself*- in huge classes. Even at this highly gifted magnet school, Mrs. Shah’s classes are an outrageous 34 students. For those of you unfamiliar with the magnet school structure in CA, there is a hierarchy of public magnet, gifted magnet, and then highly gifted magnet schools. This was my first real exposure to LAUSD, but I can only imagine what classes and class sizes are like at schools lower in that hierarchy…

Anyway, we were so impressed by the students and teachers at this school, and shocked by the high student to teacher ratios, that we are organizing with Darshana to assist during the weeks that she is teaching gel electrophoresis and transformation of bacteria with the rfp gene. One of us will report back after!

Ladies from CSUN's Women in Science Club


*She did say that on some days, parent volunteers come in to help her.



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