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Science education

Fall 2011

Cross-cultural pen pals

One morning this spring a group of WSU students from Jeff Petersen’s Communication Studies 321 class fills half of a small lecture hall at Spokane’s Riverpoint campus. They have traveled here from Pullman to meet their pen pals, 5th through 8th graders from the Nespelem Elementary School on the Colville Reservation in north-central Washington. Though they have been communicating with the grade-schoolers by letters throughout the semester, they are meeting for the first time to visit, “play” with science, and talk about going to college.

The Center for Civic Engagement at WSU started the pen pal project last fall. As a part of its mission, … » More …

Fall 2011

Some of the most important things your science teacher taught you are wrong

There’s the science most of us learned as kids. Then there’s the science that scientists actually do.

The K-12 variety is more like a cooking class, but with chemicals, goggles, an occasional Erlenmeyer flask, the unforgettable smell of formaldehyde, and nothing you would want to eat. There, the scientific method is reduced to the formula of a lab report: hypothesize, test, gather data, evaluate, conclude, generally along the lines the teacher told you to expect.

Outside the classroom, science has over the centuries spawned revolutionary advances in knowledge and well-being. But in the classroom it’s, what? Predictable. Formulaic. Boring. All of the above.

Judy Morrison, … » More …

Winter 2002

Mystery of the Martian mummies

One of the last places you would expect to find teenage girls in the middle of July is a science classroom. But for Rachel Milhem, Romany Redman, and nine others, the Washington State University Spokane CityLab Young Women’s Summer Science Camp laboratory was one of the hottest places to be last summer.

“I wanted to participate in this camp, because I really like science, and I thought it would be fun to analyze stuff, like maybe whether or not aliens exist,” says Rachel Milhem, a sixth-grader at All-Saints Catholic School.

Rachel, along with 10 other young girls, decided to spend some of her summer engaging … » More …