Just this past Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a class field trip to the 4-H Children’s Garden on the south end of Campus. My TE 401 course (concerning the methods of teaching Science to elementary students) is composed of seniors preparing for a career in elementary education. The objectives of the class field trip was to discuss the positive and negative aspects of school field trips, discuss how to create a memorable and educational field trip, and observe and experience the 4-H Children’s Garden programs and technology available to teachers.
First, I would like to say that having the opportunity to take a walk-through of the gardens from the perspective of a future teacher was really beneficial. I had never had an opportunity quite like that before. I believe the personnel and educators who make themselves available for children/classes, and who create these experiences for children that are not only educational, but fun and exciting, should be venerated! The fact that these people create such long-lasting memories for these kids is amazing. Science is a subject that completely surrounds us and by crafting such fun programs, programs that can last days or even weeks, MSU is instilling a life-long appreciation for science in our future leaders.
Secondly, I want to point out just how a-head of the game the curator of the 4-H Children’s Garden is. Dr. Norm Lownds was able to demonstrate just how technologically advanced their program is becoming. They have integrated a Smart Board into the “Curiosity Classroom” (the main classroom in which classes and children enter to do experiments, arts and crafts, discussions, lectures, etc.). The Smart Board they have installed enables instructors to fully integrate technology into their lesson introductions and follow-ups; in doing so, the hands-on experiences the children participated in in the gardens is enhanced and expanded on. Dr. Lownds and his colleagues also created a kids’ website/wiki page called “Seeds of Science”. This online application is an interactive arena where children can log-on and discuss what they experienced on their field-trips, they can ask questions and get immediate feed-back, and they can also take a virtual tour of the Gardens; the website also has photos, e-newsletters, videos, chat capabilities, web-cams, and so much more. The way in which Norm and his colleagues were able to arrange and establish their interactive online application, positively influences children’s excitement, involvement and motivation.
As a future teacher, I hope to follow their example of technology integration…I will use technology to enhance and expand, NOT impede.