Tag Archive | Science

Global Collaboration – United Beyond our Diversity Through the Global Teenager Project #ECOO12

MORE INFO CLICK HERE –> http://lanyrd.com/2012/ecoo12/swbmw/ 

A session at ECOO Conference 2012

This presentation will highlight the use of digital learning circles and global collaboration on major world issues. Using a Wiki as a space to collaborate, students from around the world work in learning circles to, pose questions, investigate and publish answers at a global scale. The Global Teenager Project allows for highly engaging lessons that will link to the curriculum as well as the students own community. This session will provide examples of thematic learning circles grade 6- 12 and particularly highlight the journey a class of Senior students have taken. Participants will learn how to connect and start the program in their own class or school. The wiki will be shared, the research process and clips from web conferences made between a Toronto based school and a global partner from Kenya.

About the speakers

Science Teacher, TDSB,
OISE/UT M.Ed Urban Education

Anita Townsend
Global Educator, Education Consultant,
Former Principal of Program SCDSB

Educational Computing Organization of Ontario


Science for Social Justice

Science is embedded into society and society into science. Often it is taught as a separate facts or terms with a missing humanistic link. The Ontario curriculum has done a good job putting STSE first in the curricular expectations but if it is implemented in the classroom is a different story. Through my masters study, many of those students lacked the connection between their lives and science.

Coming at science from a social justice perspective with a critical lens goes way beyond facts and terms. Who is using science to their benefit and who ends up paying the price?

Angela Calabrese Barton has inspired me with her book on social justice and science as well as her research. Working on the Africentric program science course profile, I wanted to ensure it included social justice at the core. It allows us to critically analyze society, race, class and many other aspects that are deeply rooted within science.

Here are several resources that can be used in class to demonstrate social justice within science and spark change.

Greening the Ghetto – Majora Carter – TED Talk


“As a black person in America, I am twice as likely as a white person to live in an area where air pollution poses the greatest risk to my health. I am five times more likely to live within walking distance of a power plant or chemical facility — which I do.” – Majora Carter


Blood in the Mobile – Documentary


“The main part of minerals used to produce cell phones are coming from the mines in the Eastern DR Congo. The Western World is buying these so-called conflict minerals and thereby finances a civil war that, according to human rights organisations, has been the bloodiest conflict since World War II: During the last 15 years the conflict has cost the lives of more than 5 million people and 300.000 women have been raped. The war will continue as long as armed groups can finance their warfare by selling minerals.” – Blood in the Mobile


94 Elements – Copper Acid and Dust – Documentary


“So I have mixed feelings about this film, knowing that we had to stop filming right when I felt we were just beginning to make something quite special with Sanjay. The workers in each compound usually all come from the same village, most having migrated from rural Bihar State, India’s poorest province. I was struck by the similarities between their new work with the copper and the agricultural labour they had left behind. The unhappy irony being that their work now poisons the same land which used to grow their crops.” – Mike Paterson


Learning Virtually with Virtual Researcher On Call (VROC) Partnership between University of Toronto and TDSB.

Today our class had a virtual researcher in our grade 11 Chemistry class.  Dr. Sanchita Bandyopadhyay-Ghosh joined us from the University of Toronto to talk about Green Chemistry.  She is from Centre for Biocomposites and Biomaterials Processing University of Toronto and works with biodegradable composites, cellulose nanofibres , biopolyol and biofoam.

Her lecture was informative discussed the major links chemistry has to industry and the environment.  She graciously shared her work in the field and discussed the next steps.  She challenged to students to enter into science fields to fix the problems we have and make a sustainable future.  She shared her passion for the environment and told the students how she got involved and why she keeps on working in this field.

“2050 ‘biological capacity’ equal to two planet earths would be required to keep up with humanity’s resource demands and waste production.”

VROC has proven to be an excellent tool for the classroom.  We were able to link chemistry to a researcher in the field and look at the environmental impact.

Thank you Carol from VROC and Dr Sanchita Bandyopadhyay-Ghosh for participating in an enriching learning experience on Green Chemistry with the Toronto District School Board.

Learning and Creating Science with Technology

Our school has been involved in a lot of pilots and demonstration classrooms.  I love working with technology where I can and especially sharing it with the students.  We have been asked to document some of the technology and computer software that we use to enrich the science experience in our classes.  Instead of listing a bunch of software we decided to demonstrate it being used for science.

Two problems exist when introducing new technology into a school.  You need staff to buy into it, and also invest time in to not just learning it but to effectively integrate it into curriculum and the classroom.  The novelty and experience should not be about the particular software/hardware itself but the learning experience of the subject.  No one now brags about email or how they can type a word document.  That is just a common tool like paper and pencil.  These new technologies should fluidly be integrated where the students appreciate it but what they learn is the skill of that tool and the content.  This allows them to apply this new skill to other applications, for both school and personal use.

A simple example, let’s look at a Prezi presentation.  The students are the creators, not just consumers, where they can creatively communicate knowledge.  Students can research an environmental issue and see how it affects certain groups of individuals.  They then can use Prezi in other classes and for fun projects.  The issue is when the teacher gets too caught up with Prezi itself and does not know how to pair it with a lesson.  A teacher normally make brochures and just transfer the project from a paper to digital medium.  This is a good first step, but sometimes the learning is more focused on the technology itself and not the content.

With the newest technology we need to move from consumer to creator.  Instead of simple viewing of material we want technology to allow us to manipulate variables, allow for changes and publishing student ideas.  Hope you enjoy the video and it gives you some ideas to apply technology in your classroom or workplace.  It features 2 other teachers from our school as well.

What does a scientist look like?

During my interviews for my study I asked all the participants what a scientist looks like.  This question came just after I asked if they believe learning about their own race is important to their learning.  The students describe almost everything that they were not!  Is this one of the big disconnects? That students don’t feel they meet the criteria of science?  They nearly all described an Albert Einstein looking male.  Below is the table summarized.  What is the cause of this?  Could it be the fact that Western Science is heavily taught in school?  Are cartoons to blame?  The media?  The textbooks?

ImageFrom my personal experience the media/tv shows portrays scientists as an Albert Einstein look a like.  I often watched Bill Nye growing up and I still show my students, sure Bill Nye is a middle aged white male, but the show has many children on it of all backgrounds as well.  The authority figure in the show is the white male, so this is maybe where the students get this from.  Often commercials have a medical authority trying to sell some product and they are also a white middle aged male.  The textbooks that were just released over the last couple years are phenomenal at portraying all kinds diversity from women wearing a hijab to features on key black scientists to sections on students who are researching right now at the high school level.  These books are very engaging and really making an effort to show that ALL students can be scientists. 



Below is a chart summarizing the findings.  NOTE all names as pseudonyms and races are what each student told me they identified with.  All answers are word for word transcriptions taken within an inner city high school in Toronto.  



what does a scientist look like?



S: white male about 30-50 with glasses hahaha



S: first, first picture, they would…I don’t know…honestly…probably like a white guy in a lab coat or something hahah, to be real still. But like I know there is black scientists…you know and all that stuff. But like in a book, that’s a white guy.



African American

T:probably white, puffy hair hahaha


Mixed (white/ black)

T:ahhhh someone in lab coat, beaker,

T:I guess facial look? Like someone who doesn’t take care of themselves, beard haha

T:any race.




Albert Einstein



L: nerds

L: yea, guy, get paid good

L: white, but mostly guys


Light Skin

K: just um lab coat, some beakers,

K: unisex



J: most shows they put them with a guy with classes or something, lab coat,

J: mostly like white



J: an old white guy hahah



E: usually white, for the most part



M: like a nerd, glasses, lab coat and something like that