Changes are coming. Our children and our teachers will be in for major changes when it
comes to science education. Our nation’s leaders are placing emphasis on the importance
of science in our schools now more than ever. Instead of state’s deciding themselves how
science will be taught there will be a national curriculum standard in place within a few
years. Georgia is one of the leaders in this big change, according to the non-profit
organization Achieve. Here, we will be one of the first states to implement the new
In DeKalb County, the change couldn’t come at a better time. Hopefully, with the changes
ahead, new funding will be able to support and amazing, but struggling institution of our
school system, the Fernbank Science Center. DeKalb County is unique in that this center
has been in charge of exposing children to advanced concepts and techniques throughout
their K-12 schooling. With budget cuts, Fernbank is always on the precipice of closing,
despite thousands of families flocking to their open doors on the weekends. The fact is that
the facility is an extension of the Department of Education and it’s unique mission to the
community is in danger.
Despite the fact there is exposure to the sciences; most students are still not skilled enough
in mathematics as well as the sciences to further study it in higher education. This is a
problem that the new curriculum standards might correct. The real correction comes from
training teachers to adequately handle the sciences and to strengthen programs like
Fernbank Science Center. I believe teachers working with allies like Georgia Tech and the
University of Georgia, along with science and technology companies local to the area could
create real life scenarios of how science is important and relevant to the average student.
If students as individuals (in their science fair projects) or as a classroom were able to
contribute to ongoing research, students could gain firsthand knowledge, preparing them for
potential lineup of jobs down the road.
Many immigrants and native Georgians come together in this beacon of science education
for the community. Our goal in DeKalb County is to use the resources we already have,
entrenched in the ideas of positive education-centered groups. Bringing progressive ideas
into the classroom that promote and stimulate higher thinking and tolerance can benefit us
all, and of course, our future as citizens of a diverse, multi-generational and multi-ethnic
There is so much potential and possibility here. One of the amazing things about Georgia
that the Fernbank Science Center embraces is that our Department of Natural Resources is
key to why so much of our landscape has been preserved. In Fernbank’s environment,
students can learn how to be the future caretakers of our environment. Partnerships have
already been established, but public awareness and funding could grow relationships with
the Department of Education and Fernbank.
For example, wouldn’t it be great if students could learn how to determine what trees are
showing signs of distress to disease or storm damage and need felling? Wouldn’t it be great
if an entire classroom decided to adopt the trees around their school and begin to collect
data for either the DNR or maybe one of the research universities?
Wouldn’t it be great if we began to teach our youngest students the basics of writing
computer code so they begin to create their own games instead of playing them? Under the
science umbrella, the possibilitiesof educating students are endless.
We must begin to plan our future because the need for engineers and researchers in the
sciences will face us sooner than later. It is time we start investing in all of our futures by
investing in the science education of our children.
Francia McCormack Wilson is a writer in Stone Mountain. She is the mother of two and an
avid gardener and volunteer nature conservationist.