Future Science Teachers Hone Skills Through Summer Science Camp

2014 Get Real! Science CampAspiring teachers typically have to postpone putting their newly acquired skills to the test until they enter a traditional K-12 classroom environment. However, graduate students who are studying to become science teachers at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education will gain hands-on experience teaching in an informal learning setting this summer as they lead the 2015 Get Real! Science Camp for middle school students in the City of Rochester.
The camp, which runs July 27 through August 3, will provide 30 local city students from Rochester’s NEAD Freedom School—a literacy school offering summer classes to children in distressed neighborhoods—an opportunity to conduct water quality studies incorporating Lake Ontario and the Genesee River. With guidance from these soon-to-be science teachers, city students will engage in real scientific questions about water quality and usage and what makes water healthy and clean. 
The annual Get Real! Science Camp helps students develop a meaningful understanding of science and gain an appreciation for the role that science plays in their daily lives. The camp also allows students and future science teachers to learn and have fun at the same time.
“Informal, non-traditional learning settings, such as summer and afterschool programs, serve as valuable learning sites for students and future teachers,” said Camp Director Andrea Cutt, a visiting assistant professor at the Warner School. “Our goal with the Get Real! Science Camp is to engage students in real science outside the formal structure of traditional classrooms and to provide aspiring teachers with valuable hands-on experience in applying the knowledge and skills that they have learned during their graduate study.”
The camp helps graduate students studying to become science teachers to move toward a more authentic, inquiry-based approach that makes learning science exciting and meaningful for children. These master’s students will guide middle schoolers in acting, thinking, and working like real scientists on a relevant problem in their own community. Students will also learn what can be done to make local water healthy and clean.
2014 Get Real! Science CampAs part of the water quality studies, students and future students will spend two days in the lake collecting water samples and will then perform several tests in laboratories on the University of Rochester’s River Campus to determine water quality variables, like pH balance, dissolved oxygen levels, bacteria and algae, temperature, and turbidity. Students will then present findings from their water quality studies to the community and provide real scientific answers and clarity to water quality and usage and what makes water healthy and clean on the camp’s last day, Monday, August 3, from 1 to 2 p.m., at the Freedom School on 630 N. Goodman Street. (The event is free and open to the public.)
The value of inquiry-based science education—or doing science to learn science—is affirmed as a solid method of teaching and learning throughout summer camp and the remainder of the 15-month science teacher preparation program, known as the Get Real! Science Program, which the Get Real! Science Camp is part of. The Get Real! Science Program, created a decade ago by April Luehmann, associate professor at the Warner School, is grounded in authentic experiences that include the summer Get Real! Science Camp, Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic and Relevant Science) program, and more. Daily photographs from the Get Real! Science Camp and blog entries highlighting activities can be viewed on the Get Real! Science website at Get Real Science.
About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers an accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
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Tags: Andrea Cutt, Get Real! Environmental Action Camp, Get Real! Science, science education