Pre-service teachers practice science lessons at children’s museum

TEAC 315 students get hands-on science teaching experience at the Lincoln Children's Museum.

Pre-service teachers practice science lessons at children’s museum

14 Apr 2017    

Students in Krista Adams’ TEAC 315 class see much more than the four walls of their Henzlik Hall classroom. They take what they learn in “Teaching Science in the Elementary School” and apply it in after-school science clubs in Lincoln elementary schools and with children at the Lincoln Children’s Museum (LCM).

Thanks to a National Science Foundation grant through the Nebraska Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), Adams has been able to work with MRSEC faculty to identify key concepts aligned with MRSEC research, as her students design elementary level science lessons and practice the craft of teaching. The grant has helped provide materials for teaching these research-based explorations, as well as supporting and engaging children and their families with science outside of the home and classroom. 

Krista Adams“We want to build their ability to become leaders,” says Adams, assistant professor in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education. “The teachers (students) come in and don’t think they can do it. Then they build these fantastic activities, they get the children involved in the learning and they realize themselves, they can do science. The teachers learn they can do science, the children learn they can do science and so everyone is winning.”

Since the fall of 2012, Adams’ has been collaborating with the Lincoln Community Learning Centers where students in Lincoln Public Schools can find safe, supervised before- and after-school programs. Over the years, Adams and her Nebraska students have volunteered their time to organize science clubs at Belmont, West Lincoln, Holmes, Brownell, Norwood Park, Riley, and Saratoga elementary schools and Lefler, Goodrich, and Dawes middle schools.

Lessons meet the Nebraska State Science Standards, are aligned with researched best practice, are age appropriate and include both peer and instructional feedback. Adams observes her students in action and provides encouragement, prompting and suggestions.

Except for Thanksgiving, students led interactive science lessons each weekend in November at the Children’s Museum in downtown Lincoln and will be engaging again from 1-3 p.m., April 23. More than 100 elementary students and parents from West Lincoln and Holmes elementary schools are signed up for the Sunday event at LCM. A dozen of Adams’ students will be directing science activities associated with specific exhibits at LCM. Teachers and Community Learning Center coordinators from the two schools will help organize kids and parents. Student ambassadors from the College of Education and Human Sciences are also expected to volunteer their help at the event, which is funded by a National Science Foundation grant through the Nebraska Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Prior to this partnership and TEAC 315 students “adopting” LCM exhibits, the museum lacked educational standards, lesson plans or other clear educational connections to the exhibits. The activities emphasize hands-on child exploration in a one-on-one environment with teachers.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get students into the classroom,” said Adams. “The LCM partnership allows students to do their science lessons, interact with children and their parents, and provide a great community service as well.”

The video below, from the November activities, provides a peek at how pre-service teachers and their students are learning together at the Children’s Museum.

College of Education and Human Sciences
Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education