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Empowering Science Education & Teaching Science for Social Justice Edna Tan University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Agenda. Empowering science education & Science as a tool for social justice (5mins) Jana case study – A community science expert (20 mins )

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Empowering Science Education & Teaching Science for Social Justice

Edna Tan

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

agenda
Agenda
  • Empowering science education & Science as a tool for social justice (5mins)
  • Jana case study – A community science expert (20 mins)
  • Designing experiences in science to foster youth CSE identity development (20 mins)
  • Wrap up (5mins)
education social justice
Education & Social Justice

Education, at its core, must be about working with people to tear down barriers that separate, sort, & label individuals and social groups hierarchically based on their social, cultural & economic backgrounds.

- Calabrese-Barton, paraphrasing Paulo Freire

teaching science for social justice
Teaching Science for social justice

What does this mean?

Our society has a history of environmental racism and hierarchical relationships between those who know science (and how to manipulate scientific findings) and those who don’t. (Gourlay, 1992)

teaching science for social justice1
Teaching Science for social justice

What does this mean?

Science holds a uniquely powerful place in our society.

  • provides a knowledge base for more informed conversations with health-care workers
  • Demystifies key environmental issues such as air quality standards, pollution standards for drinking water, toxic-dump & building regulations
teaching science for social justice2
Teaching Science for social justice

What does this mean?

Science can be used as a tool for change.

Important to think about science not just as a way of understanding the world, but also as a political activity – framed around power, status & influence

EMPOWERING students through and in science

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COMMUNITY SCIENCE EXPERT MODEL

One of the UHI movies.

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COMMUNITY SCIENCE EXPERT MODEL

You have to know about your community if you are going to make your investigation really make a difference. So, you have to know more than just the science you are doing. I mean no one really cares about carbon dioxide. Really. They don’t. But when you explain how it actually impacts the global warming and using the CFLs saves money too, then people will.

- Jana, 13 year old.

case study jana
Case Study: Jana
  • Jana, a fifth grader, who attended an after-school program called Green Energy Technologies in the City (GET City) during the 2008-2009 school year
exploring the case
Exploring the case
  • Your challenge is to pay attention to Jana’s learning about green energy & how it is empowering for her.  In doing so, you will reflect upon the following questions:

•What does she seem to be interested in?  Why?
•How do the social, political and cultural contexts in which she lives inform what she knows and cares about?
•How does Jana leverage her knowledge and interests to engage with the green energy focus of GET City?

jana questions an expert
Jana questions an expert
  • Jana asked her own question to an expert panel at a green energy GET City expert forum linking green energy with both the environment and the economy.  Before the forum, GET City youth compiled a list of questions to ask the experts; however, Jana goes “off script” and asks a question that is not on the prepared list given to the experts.  This connection has been made in a public service announcement by Green for All that Jana watched in the fall with GET City.
jana questions an expert1
Jana questions an expert

Jana: Why do you think green energy is so important to the earth and the economy?

Expert: Which (question) number is that?

GC teacher: Uh, she added that…

GET City Expert Forum, 20 Nov 2008

jana brings get city into her classroom
Jana brings GET City into her classroom
  • Surveys and replaces 50 incandescent light bulbs in her school with 50 CFLs
    • Asks permission to survey her school light bulbs
    • Asks for donations from local board of water & light for CFLs for her school
    • Replaces the lightbulbs for her school
group discussion
Group Discussion
  • What were the connections between life experiences and GET City science knowledge that were evident in Jana’s learning toolkit? (what did she know, do and say?)
    • E.g. how might her concern with global warming impact her engagement with green energy issues?
  • How did Jana demonstrate empowerment in her engagement?
  • How did science serve as a tool for Jana to address social justice issues in her life?
your turn
Your Turn

In your groups, come up with a 2-3 lesson sequence/unit that you can use with your students to position them as Community Science experts.

Think about:

  • Their practices: what will they do?
  • Their identities/roles: Who can they be?
  • Their resources: What can they draw from? Who can they draw from?
  • Authentic products: What can they produce that will benefit them AND a possible larger community?
teaching science for social justice3
Teaching Science for social justice

What does this mean?

  • Recognizing oppression: There is injustice in society
  • Teachers as change-agents: Teachers can interrupt the cycles of oppression
  • Social justice pedagogy: That students themselves are ultimately part of the solution to injustice, both as youth and as they grow up into adulthood
teaching science for social justice4
Teaching Science for social justice

What does this mean?

4. Students need to understand more deeply the sociopolitical dynamics of their world.

5. Science can be used as a tool for change.

6. Important to think about science not just as a way of understanding the world, but also as a political activity – framed around power, status & influence

teaching science for social justice5
Teaching Science for social justice

What does this mean?

7. Science holds a uniquely powerful place in our society.

  • provides a knowledge base for more informed conversations with health-care workers
  • Demystifies key environmental issues such as air quality standards, pollution standards for drinking water, toxic-dump & building regulations
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Vertical and Horizontal aspects of the CSE model

Tan & Calabrese Barton, 2012. p. 138

COMMUNITY SCIENCE EXPERT MODEL

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Resources

Getcity.org –this is the GET city website [Principal Investigators Angela Calabrese Barton, Scott Calabrese Barton (MSU) & Carmen Turner (BGCL]. You can find videos and PSAs youth created here.

Tan E, & Calabrese Barton, A. (2012) Empowering Science and Mathematics classrooms in urban schools. University of Chicago Press.