Science Coaches Spotlight

By AACT on December 11, 2019

Science Coaches Spotlight

Our Science Coaches Program participants have been hard at work coming up with ways to inspire the next generation of chemists. Here are just a few of their stories.

Teacher Ellen Deathridge and Coach Danielle Garrett, Nashville, TN

Ellen and Danielle have been collaborating in the Science Coaches Program for six years. At first, they started out with a hands-on lesson they designed for Ellen’s fourth graders to teach the concepts of color, light, and wavelengths. Over the years, that lesson grew into a day of demonstrations and activities that took place at Belmont University. Students had the opportunity to learn about light-related concepts, such as why the sunset is red, how prisms work, why neon signs glow, and even the photoelectric effect! They used spectroscopes, prisms, and LEDs, made their own color wheels, and observed the colorful flame test of metal salts in a visit to the Belmont University general chemistry lab.

Teacher Tim Goetz and Coach Tahl Zimmerman, Greensboro, NC

Tim and Tahl are in their second year of the Science Coaches Program. Last year, their middle school students designed and refined a yogurt production process. Students had to research the appropriate materials required, test various culturing times and types of milk used, scale up the protocol to produce sellable quantities, determine how to package the yogurt for sale and how much to charge, and collect consumer input to guide their next steps. They used the school kitchen to make the yogurt and then sold it to raise funds for school trips! This has now become part of the school culture and students independently repeat the process when they need to restock. This year, Tim and Tahl have had students collecting and analyzing water samples and learning about how and why GMOs are used.

Teacher Allison Sarfati and Coach Kin-Chun Luk, Vienna, VA

Allison and Kin-Chun are working together for their second year and have been bringing real-world chemistry and engineering problems into the high school classroom. They helped students build and evaluate a model radiator to learn about thermochemistry calculations and engineering design using the AACT “Chemistry of Cars” resource “Building and Testing a Model Radiator.” Students also used melting point apparatuses to identify unknown pharmaceutical compounds and had the chance to ask Dr. Luk what a day in the life of a chemist is like, why chemists need lawyers, and what it’s like to go to MIT. Allison said that working with a science coach has been her most valuable professional development experience and that having Dr. Luk visit her classroom has been a great motivator for previously un-engaged students who now want to come back to chemistry class during free periods!

Teacher Lauren Stewart and Coach Travis Green, Sylvania, OH

Lauren and Travis are continuing their partnership for the second year and have developed thermochemistry activities for their freshmen classes using infrared camera technology to evaluate the effectiveness of insulators based on Travis’s research at Bowling Green State University. This year, they modified the activity to give it a geology angle – students built volcanoes using IR transparent materials so they could use “remote sensing” to detect movement in the “magma” below the surface!

Do you have an awesome Science Coaches experience you’d like to share with the AACT community, or questions for the participants? Go to the discussion board and post your story!