Science literacy is crucial to the well-being of societies and countries around the world. Every day technology becomes more significant in shaping the world’s economy, our homes, cultures and relationships. The future prosperity of nations around the world is intimately intertwined via advancing information, transportation, and agricultural technologies and the environment. The Earth We Share (TEWS) engages students and teachers from around the world in meeting these vital challenges.
Despite the explosive growth in the number of jobs requiring scientific and technical skills, the basic science literacy skills of students graduating from secondary schools has not kept up. This is true especially in the United States. This trend coupled with the loss of strictly manual labor jobs will compromise future economics and societies.
While all children demonstrate a love for science when they start school, by the time they reach third grade their enthusiasm has started to wither. Questions such as “Why is the sky blue?” “Why do I need to breathe?”, and “How far can the biggest person jump?” have been answered with role memorization and diversion (especially if the adult does not know the answer). Children are proud to share their newly discovered knowledge. But the stereotypic image of the scientist is that of a “nerd”, disconnected from things “normal” people do.
TEWS seeks to increase middle school and secondary school students’ science literacy and problem solving skills, build knowledge of the impact of science and technology on society, increase understanding of societal and environmental impact on science endeavors, and enhance teacher skills in experiential education.
From the first camp at Choate Rosemary Hall to the subsequent programs at Camp Algonquin, Talladega College, Dartmouth College, Colorado School of Mines, Willamette University and Cornell University, TEWS helps students connect science to their daily lives and society. The four-week residential program uses experiential learning to build critical thinking skills. Together, students from around the world and the United States, with a teacher and college intern, work in teams to create solutions to contemporary global dilemmas.
A Meaningful Educational Experience
The overriding purpose of TEWS is to develop a “meaningful science educational experience”. An experience that integrates student’s intellect, emotion, interests and skills and produces a significant sense of achievement and growth. One that bolsters the students’ confidence in their own ability to think, to feel, to take action and to cope with future challenges: to promote self-esteem! (Adapted from Dr. Cheryl Morrow’s Meaningful Experiences in Science Education).
TEWS believes that to accomplish this objective, we must:
- Initiate the teaching of science skills at the middle and secondary school levels via experiential learning;
- Increase student and teacher appreciation for the impact of science and technology on society and the earth, and explore how society and the resources available on earth will affect scientific endeavors;
- Improve teacher skills through practice of experiential teaching methods and exchange of ideas with other educators and industry professionals; and,
- Identify curricula that best promote positive attitudes in students and teachers toward science careers.