The Savin group is highly active in outreach activities, particularly at the K-5 level.
Inquiry-based Discovery at the Lower Elementary Level: You are a Scientist!The National Science Teachers Association indicates that inquiry-based science must be a basic component in the daily curriculum of every elementary student at every grade level, yet science education and the associated problem solving skills are typically lacking in elementary school curricula. “You are a Scientist!” is an educational program, funded by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation (SG-13-020) and the ACS Science Coaches Program, aimed at incorporating inquiry-based discovery into 2nd and 3rd grade curricula. Young children form ideas about future careers based on the behaviors that adults around them model; it is critical to show these children that STEM careers are both exciting and obtainable. “You are a Scientist!” at introduces elementary students to the scientific method and STEM concepts in a fun and interactive environment. Our rationale is to generate excitement with students early on to encourage them to continue on a path that will improve critical thinking and spark an interest in science.
The overarching theme of ‘You are a Scientist!’ is to help the students learn and apply the scientific method keeping in mind that they are already scientists; they already ask questions based on observations and offer explanations as to why. The program consists of visiting classrooms once a month for about 45 minutes each. Our lessons have covered magnetism, physical changes, chemical changes, solubility, acids and bases, surfactants, polymers, light, and kinetic/potential energy. The designed curriculum is more general, trying to reinforce basic concepts associated with inquiry, critical thinking, and measurements. The lessons are planned in consultation with the teachers and are aligned with the 2010 Mississippi science learning objectives at this grade level. “You are a Scientist!” started in 2011 with four classrooms at Oak Grove Lower Elementary School in Hattiesburg, MS; the program now reaches over 220 students. We are excited to bring this program to Gainesville, Florida!
NBC Learn – Chemistry Now:NBC Learn is the educational wing of NBC News and provides access to a number of web-based educational resources for K-16 students. In 2011 for the International Year of Chemistry they introduced a series entitled, ‘Chemistry Now.’ Savin participated in the filming for two of these educational videos that explain surface tension, the cleaning action of surfactants and a novel oil dispersant being developed at USM. These videos can be seen at:
The Kids’ Science Challenge (KSC):
The KSC is a nationwide competition for 3rd-6th grade students to challenge a scientist to invent something new. This NSF-sponsored program annually recruits a scientist in three different areas to participate. In year three of the competition (2011), I was selected as the scientist in the ‘Super Stuff for Sports’ category. This involved filming videos giving an overview of polymers and how different materials are used in sporting equipment. I helped judge the entries, and the winner (of 200 entries) was hosted in my laboratory where we tested his hypothesis that the temperature of a golf ball affects bounce. This work with the KSC was featured on:
- Pulse of the Planet (NPR):
- NPR’s Talk of the Nation: Science Friday:
- The Hattiesburg American newspaper and WDAM TV.
- More information and videos:
- Pulse of the Planet (NPR):