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‘Animating’ a Level Playing Field in Science Education

Monday, August 19, 2013

Equinox Summit: Learning 2030 focuses on the future of high school education, a future that will be influenced by the wider landscape of education issues; from informal to formal education, primary to post-secondary.

In this Learning 2030 Blog entry, explore how, from a very young age, media influences the paths that students follow through their education. 

 by Lissa Moses, Learning 2030 Blog contributor    

Image ©RDECOM

In my first year teaching science, I had some mammoth goals:
I wanted my students to love science, to be natural explorers, to identify as scientists and to confidently explore the world through the lens of an investigator. 

I thought that once I tackled classroom management, I could accomplish my list. No problem. It wasn’t like I was teaching history, a subject plagued with sepia-toned stories of days past; I was teaching science, a subject that naturally bubbled with adventure.*

Though I spent hours researching and preparing what I hoped to be life-changing demonstrations and activities, I soon learned of the all-encompassing power of media in the classroom. 

 

The attention-holding power of video

The first time I played a video, my 6th graders were transformed: a spell was cast upon them by the powers of moving images and they turned into engaged, focused, pupils for longer periods of time than I had ever experienced. 

My students were engrossed and all I had done was press play. 

I wish I could say there was a moment when I realized it, but really it occurred to me over time: there was a large problem with the media and I was doing my students a major disservice by not addressing it. 

A lack of diversity

What I hadn’t noticed was that the majority of resources depicted “the scientist” as an older Caucasian male. 

I wanted my students to see themselves as scientists and yet fewer than half of my students were male, zero were old, and zero were Caucasian. 

The idea for Mosa Mack: Science Detective was born: The main character is female and voiced by a former student of mine. 

The goal is to shake up the way that students and teachers alike perceive scientists so that we are intentionally empowering a broad audience to participate. Science needs diversity. 
 

Getting girls and minority students into the sciences

There are dozens of studies and articles investigating why there are so few women and minorities in the STEM fields but as a teacher, you get an inside peek. 

Media suggests to students, from an early age, that science isn’t for everyone. We are going to change that.

Lissa Moses is a New York City-area schoolteacher, entrepreneur, and founder/creative director at Mosa Mack: Science Detective – which reached its crowdfunding goal in July – producing short animated science mysteries to empower girls and minority students in science. 

*Thankfully, since that first year, I have developed a deep love of history and no longer find it painful. Apologies to offended history-lovers, but you have to admit…