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Yu-An Chen


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Why don't we have more "Kitchen" scientists?

When people hear the word "Science", they often think of fancy labs with high technology equipment, and this is not too far off-- In my Bioelectricity class, for example, we learned about patch clamp experiments, which use tiny electrical recorders called micropipettes to record electrical currents from single ion channels in cells, and the voltage clamp experiments performed by Hodgkin and Huxley, in which they managed to thread wires through a single axon! These experiments, and a lot of other important experiments outside this field, require a lot of expensive machinery, chemicals and facilities. But does science always have to be a luxury? For example, instead of using expensive fish-eye lens for photography experiment, we could simply buy a much cheaper door viewer to get the same barrel distortion effect. Or you can go online and buy kits to record from brains, or if you live in New York City, you can join the community laboratory called GenSpace, take workshops, trainings, or can work on our own projects!

How do you think we can help science become more accessible to everyone? The more people, both amateur and professional, who contribute to science, the more ideas will be created!


Closing Statement from Yu-An Chen

Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. I got to know a lot of new resources by going through the comments. It seems like most people will be glad to see more kitchen scientists. We can start with turning off TV and explore more about the world. Science is all around us, if one has the heart, anyone can become a kitchen scientist.

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  • Feb 9 2012: There's an idea, and it is one I haven't thought of before. Then again, science is something I'm only mildly interested in - unless its meteorology, and then I'm all over it.

    Actually, one reason why I often feel disconnected from science is because I feel it isn't as accessible as other subjects. You don't need fancy equipment to really dive into literature or history or math, but for science? ... Or so I thought. Now that you mention it, I wonder why we do not have more "kitchen" scientists, especially in the education system. ^^ Maybe this idea is simply not well known enough yet. Otherwise, I see no reason why we couldn't have more "kitchen scientists".
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      Feb 10 2012: Taught "science" in Texas a few years ago ... wasn't even provided with any lab facilities, nor were there any plans to. I did receive several great big textbooks, though! My science room was a mess by the end of year ... refused to teach without hands-on activities. Most of the materials I used were from the neighboring hardware store or large grocery chain.
      Students achieved over 90% on their science TAKS tests .... state average was in the 70s.
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        Feb 11 2012: Mr. Pack kudos to you!!!!! That's what I'm talking about.......some teachers just don't want to be bothered.

        Why??? because kids get loud and excited and MESSY during science labs...they don't want to deal with classroom discipline and untidiness....BUT IT'S SUPPOSED to be exciting, and yes kids get out of control, but that passes once they see that calm is needed to proceed. Some teachers just don't get it. They sacrifice discovery for a safe haven of orderliness. oy

        It is very very sad. Science is so much fun.....and it DOES NOT have to be expensive.

        I hope some science teachers read through this conversation thread.

        It's nice to know there are teachers like you Mr. Pack.
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          Feb 11 2012: I also found, working with other teachers, that many are afraid the kids aren't learning if they are too excited, or having fun, or not sitting down quietly taking notes or answering questions out of the book!
          Science is everywhere ... all you have to do as a teacher is connect what you want kids to learn with what's around them in their world. I always told the kids that I liked teaching science because they already knew everything ... it was just my job to connect their life to what they needed to "know" for some other power to be.
          Now Mary, stop calling me Mr. Pack ... I don't need to be reminded how old I am! ;-)
          And it's equally nice to hear of all those who "practice" science with their students ... instead of spoon feeding "facts".
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        Feb 11 2012: Thank you Dennis!!! It's great to know you. Here's a great teacher quote for you:

        The mediocre teacher tells,
        The good one explains,
        The superior one shows,
        The great one inspires!

        To you and your great teaching skills Dennis Pack!!! Cheers!!

        [Edited spelling]
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        Feb 12 2012: This is an great example of bring "science to life", not drowning the students into the big heavy txtbook. I am not saying that txtbooks are just dull and useless. They are in fact the opposite. Txtbooks are great tool for further investigation of the subject. It just people need to be interested in the subject and are willing to open the txtbooks themselves, not being forced. I think your teaching method is the best way to open the gate of science for the students.
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          Feb 12 2012: So true Yu-An ... love your statement "need to be interested in the subject and are willing to open the txtbooks themselves,"

          Nothing beats self-motivation ... Always told parents "I can't teach you son/daughter anything if they don't want to learn" ... my job? Get them excited and interested ... then, learning just happens.

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