I recently had the pleasure to attend the national competition for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize in Atlanta, GA. 42 students and either their teacher or parents converged on the Sheraton Atlanta for what is called “the most prestigious award for water research.” This was a very cathartic experience for me. It is so rare for me to meet and have LOTS of time to talk to teachers who do science research with their students. Only Ray and AJ seem to be into this action in Connecticut and we only meet up for brief periods of time, several times per year.
What did I notice? Great student projects as usual. Smart, well prepared, excited students. But those teachers . . . They had a lot in common. They all seemed to be researchers at one time or another. Wow. How many times have I commented on how you can become a science teacher, get a masters in a scientific field, or whatever and NEVER have a research experience? Yet, here are these teachers, in effect, very successful, and they ALL have done it.
I spoke with some teachers from areas that some metro people might consider “backwoods,” but they are just as on track and knowledgeable about research as anyone I have ever met.
What do I conclude? Teachers of successful research students HAVE DONE research. They have lived the experience and they transfer that experience to their students.
I was lucky to have the amazing opportunity to attend.