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Fernbank op ed


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STEM, science eduation

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Fernbank op ed

  1. 1. 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 standards. 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 Georgia. 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
  2. 2. 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. 404-416-0448