It’s likely your class is loaded with some real science fiends. You know who they are! These students love exploring anything science-related, and they are always anxious to share their knowledge with the rest of the class!
Wondering what happens to those fascinated by the field of science as they age? Some of them take their childhood passions with them into adulthood. They explore their own opportunities in the realm of science: researching, teaching, or inspiring others by sharing their skills.
In one of The Walking Classroom’s Science Career Series podcasts, you can hear from someone just like that — Bob Alderink. As Coordinator of the Natural World Investigate Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Bob brings science to others daily. How does he do that? Through his work at the museum, he gets folks involved in scientific explorations of their own!
Bob blends the knowledge from his bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation management and minor in biology with his lifelong passion for science. For over twenty years, Bob has provided the public with access to the scientific experience.
He has developed programs, workshops, and classes for people of all ages and abilities. In the lab, museum visitors can use microscopes and other scientific equipment. They are welcome to do some experimenting of their own, and they can even take classes in biology and geology!
You can access the podcast with Bob, either for free via our website or on WalkKits in all three of The Walking Classroom’s program offerings:
• Program 4 – #90
• Program 5 – #96
• STEM – #51
In 2011, Bob gained recognition for his efforts. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Institute of North Carolina named him the Outstanding Informal Educator of the Year!
Making the World Safe . . . from Mosquitos?!
One of Bob’s current projects focuses on the environment and the idea of bioremediation, or using something in nature to take care of something else. In the podcast, he brings up the subject of polluted water. He discusses how duckweed us used to pull pollutants out of pond environments to make them more inhabitable. Once the duckweed has done the trick; however, it needs to be removed. But how? Folks are seeking solutions for this and other environmental problems. Much can be learned about the natural world through experimentation and observation!
Did you know that mosquitos are the most deadly animals? According to the World Health Organization, mosquito bites kill more than 1 million people every year! Now there’s a problem that needs bioremediation! Bring some scientific exploration of this pesky problem into your classroom and learn more about mosquitoes!
. . . and Moving into History . . . and Math ?!
It’s not only typical science topics that make their way into the lab! It’s easy to bring history into the mix too, thanks to Bob’s other interest, America’s past!
Having been a beekeeper for nearly a decade now, Bob has access to plenty of beeswax. Because of this, classes offered in the lab have even included candlemaking, an early American pursuit practiced by none other than the father of Benjamin Franklin (4-#47)!
This fun fact is revealed in Russell Freedman’s 96-page book, Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty (1170L). It’s easy to extend your discussion of Franklin beyond his role in history, and mix in some math as well. Franklin was not only famous for being a writer, statesman, and scientist; he was an inventor too!
In fact, one of his inventions is the magic square, in which columns and rows of numbers result in the same sum when added together. Lead your students on some mathematical explorations with something they can solve! Lesson plans and activities abound to support you in your efforts!
Crossing Curricular Areas
It’s amazing just how naturally the study of the natural world can find its way into other curricular areas and enhance student learning. In this case, Bob’s interests and experience manage to connect STEM subjects, like science and math, with social studies. And that’s just one example!
What are some cross-curricular connections you have made with your class? We’d love to hear about them!