In early September, the VT EPSCoR Center for Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD) visited the J. J. Flynn Elementary School in Burlington, VT to explore what it means to be a scientist and to use some of the tools of the trade. Working with STEAM teacher, Courtney Asaro, St. Michael's College professor, Dr. Declan McCabe, introduced 5th graders to microscopes and the wonders of macroinvertebrates, and engaged 1st graders in the life of a scientist.
On September 3rd, eighteen 5th grade students made observations about aquatic insects under the microscope. Students also examined leaves, pencils, pennies, and a bumblebee found in the garden. Students recorded their findings in science notebooks, and had a chance to talk with Professor McCabe and the CWDD team about what types of bugs they were looking at. This was the first time many of the students had looked through a microscope, and the new technology provided an exciting learning experience.
On September 16th, twelve 1st grade students listened to the CWDD staff demystify the work of scientists by demonstrating how the students already do many things that scientists do. The students practiced making scientific observations on the differences between clean and dirty water, as well as macroinvertebrate specimens. The class used magnifying glasses to enhance their observations, and shared their findings orally to the group. Students played a game which helped them identify some of the activities they enjoy that scientists might also do on the job - build things, bake things, go outside, play or design computer or video games, and more. This helped them make the connection between their interests and their futures in STEM.