Fieldwork shows teacher ‘what it means to be a scientist’

As well as gaining “a whole new appreciation about seaweed”, one school science teacher who went out in actual fieldwork said the experience helped her understand what it means to be a scientist – and bring that insight into her teaching.

James Wood and Mary Anne Kafaloukos skyping 1920x756

Mary-Anne Kefaloukos Skyping with her students, along with James Wood from the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre at the
Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens

Mary-Anne Kefaloukos, from Sydney Grammar’s Edgecliff Prepatory School, embarked on the Bush Blitz TeachLive program. This takes teachers out of the classroom and into scientific fieldwork – where they accompany people who survey the Australian bushland for new plant and animal life. It’s funded by the federal government, BHP Billiton and Earth Watch, a volunteer science non-government organisation.

The teachers blog about their expedition for students back in the classroom. But Kefaloukos explained the real benefit for students was the knowledge she brought back when she returned. “I’ve been a science teacher for five years now, full-time, teaching the whole school every week,” she said. “So I knew how to be a teacher [and] I knew the basics of science but I didn’t know what it means to be a scientist,” Kefaloukos told Education Review. “It’s improved my science knowledge itself so much. As soon as I came back to school I thought, ‘We’ve got to do this, this and this and this that we did on Bush Blitz and we’re going to do it in the classes.’ ”

Bruce Paton, program manager of Bush Blitz TeachLive, said while this program is just for science, it could improve other subjects, like geography, as well. He hopes the program will expand to do this. Bush Blitz is funded until 2017.

This article was written by James Wells and originally published in Education Review. To read the article and other education stories go to:

Click on the links below to hear James interview Mary-Anne and Bruce about the Bush Blitz TeachLive expedition: