February 12, 2016

Students do an experiment

Students learning through classroom experiments. Credit: WoodleyWonderWorks / Flickr Creative Commons

What happens when elementary school science is suddenly taught by scientists?

Erika Ebbel Angle, founder of the nonprofit Science from Scientists, says she after she earned her PhD, she knew she didn’t want to follow pursue either academia or industry, which are the most common lures for doctoral students.

“There are actually more people than you think who are graduating who don’t necessarily want to take the traditional path… Many people actually want to work with kids.”

Angle wanted to find a way to open up career options for scientists and to encourage kids to be inspired by science at a young age. To Angle, there exists a mismatch between the science kids experience in the classroom and real science.So, she decided that her mission would be to get as many elementary school kids in as many schools as possible excited about science.

“Currently the way education is structured, teachers are forced to be generalists because they have to teach everything and they have to fit it all in, in such a limited amount of time,” says Angle.

In order to improve students’ interest in STEM, Angle brings practicing scientists into elementary schools to teach students about their field and inspire kids to consider a career in science and technology. Most scientists visit classrooms once a week.

When the Innovation Hub team visited, the visiting scientist wore a lab coat and taught students about the phases of the moon. To her fifth graders, she may have seemed like a science superhero: “We have these stories of the children coming up to our staff at the end of the year asking for their autographs,” says Angle.

Science from Scientists is currently in about 50 schools, and it’s hoping to expand.

For more information on the topic of STEM education in schools, check out a panel hosted by Kara Miller and our website for more on the subject.

Education, Sci and Tech, STEM, Science from Scientists, Erika Ebbel Angle

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