Earth & Space Science: Session 5
Duke Dawson, Science Consultant
with Debbie Bastian; Worcester, Massachusetts
"I remember chemistry classes where we’d get nine-page protocols of what the experiments were, and I’d do every step and the liquid would turn blue and… I’d have no idea what I just did. I was doing “hands-on” science because I was touching things, but it just made no connection to me. It dawned on me in grad school that the inquiry approach really boils down to letting students have choices — letting them choose the materials or choose how to use the materials, that makes all the difference.”
School at a Glance:
Goddard School of Science
- Location: Worcester, MA
- Grades: K-6
- Enrollment: 561
4% African American
- Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch:
85% versus a state average of 29%
Duke Dawson earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in biology, and was en route to becoming a research scientist specializing in psychobiology — a field he playfully describes as “cutting up rats’ heads and removing their brains” — when he decided it wasn’t for him. Instead, Duke took a job at the New England Science Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, a small museum with a small staff, which meant his job description was pretty open ended. “Some days I’d be doing live snake shows, some days I’d be building exhibits, but as the years went on,” explains Duke, “my job evolved into being the person who developed programs for teachers.” He now serves as a science consultant to the Worcester school district, and teaches classes at Anna Marie College and Clark University.
For the video, Duke worked with Debbie Bastian’s fifth graders at the Goddard School of Science and Technology. Now in her tenth year in the classroom and second year as a fifth-grade teacher, Debbie is preparing to return to school for her masters in education, with a focus in reading.
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