There is a collective fear that scientific literacy is decreasing with the increased use of social media. We are seeing an increased amount of non-fact-based ideas being disseminated, such as ‘the earth is flat, vaccines are bad, and the lunar landings were a hoax’.
How can educators combat the influx of “fake science news”? A vital first step is helping students learn that science is based on asking questions to get factual answers to understand the world in which we live.
One of the main challenges is engagement. How can teachers capture broad enthusiasm for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM)? Our record-breaking Astronaut, Aquanaut & former director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics has a solution…
Dr. Dave Williams is one of NASA space program’s most accomplished astronauts, setting records in spacewalking. When addressing educators or students, Dave draws on some of his most interesting experiences as an astronaut and aquanaut to explain how scientific thinking powered his adventures.
Dave’s mission in education is to empower kids to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. Based on the most common questions asked by students, Dave has also translated these concepts into a series of children’s books.
Incorporating Exploration Science into the Classroom
Dave uses different examples of exploration-related concepts to successfully capture the imagination of students and encourages educators to do the same. By leveraging the excitement associated with space travel and undersea exploration, Dave shows students that scientific thought can be exhilarating when framed as a mission to seek answers to new questions. His definition of exploration is “relentlessly seeking knowledge with passion”.
Encouraging Enthusiastic Curiosity
Recently, Dave participated in a classroom presentation that discussed growing plants underwater. Students grew tomato seeds that have flown in space to see if there was any difference compared to regular tomato seeds. The children expressed increased interest – they wanted to know whether or not the plants grew.
This experiment is a simplified version of a NASA underwater mission where Dave’s team grew tomato seeds at different depths in a freshwater lake to see how some of the variables of light, temperature, and air would affect growth. The students’ initial interest was caused by the experiment’s connection to Dave’s exciting space adventures but once they began, the students started thinking about what might happen (the possible outcomes) and enjoyed having the opportunity to see what actually happened. This is one of the foundational benefits of scientific investigation.
Dr. Williams has developed a keynote that outlines how educators can nurture engagement and enthusiasm in the classroom by utilizing similar strategies and resources to increase initial buy-in within STEAM education.
Exploration Enhanced Curriculum
Dr. Williams knows it can be a challenge supplementing the standardized curriculum with real-world examples that bring STEAM to life. He uses his career in outer space and underwater to create exciting connections between exploration and STEAM curriculum concepts. This session provides an overview of different techniques and resources educators can use to energize their classroom with a focus on STEAM concepts.
Dave’s keynote ‘Exploration Enhanced Curriculum’ teaches educators:
• How to incorporate exploration science into the classroom to complement curriculum objectives.
• The best ways to access space resource material for educators.
• Techniques for delivering scientific concepts in a manner that excites the imagination of children!
Inspiration for Educators
• 7 books that inspired astronaut Dr. Dave Williams to reach for the stars: [Read Now]
• My kid and I wrote a letter to NASA, and a very nice scientist wrote back [Read Now]
• The Dr. Dave Astronaut books for kids