Science Teachers Just Want to Have Fun
Golf balls catapulted from medieval-looking contraptions. Bowling balls were hoisted across the lawn. A go-kart sped down the walkway toward Battelle Hall, as a hitchhiker jumped on for the ride. A wild night of student hijinks? No, this summer 30 middle childhood science teachers were looking for some fun through OP2: Operation Physics program.
Otterbein University recently received a grant of $106,480 from the Ohio Board of Regents to fundOP2, a teacher training program modeled after a successful National Science Foundation program. Otterbein has received funding for three years.
Operation Physics is a tuition-free, five-credit-hour graduate course in which physical science concepts are presented with hands-on materials and activities so fourth- through ninth-grade science teachers can engage students in fun and innovative ways.
Wendy Sherman-Heckler, associate provost, was an associate professor in the Education department and managed the grant. Sherman-Heckler knows how important early inspiration can be for teachers. She credits Nate VanWey, her high school physics teacher (retired) and Otterbein alum (Class of ’72) for recognizing and cultivating her interest in science.
“The seniors in Mr. Van Wey’s physics class at Perry High School (Massillon, Ohio) loved learning science because he loved teaching it,” Heckler said. “I still remember experimenting with electric circuits and learning about pressure by watching Mr. Van Wey lie on a bed of nails. As a science education professor I often thought back to my high school physics classroom as an example – science learning should involve doing things, not memorizing information.”
“Most teachers think they have measurement down, but the chocolate bar density and tracking the sun activities were eye opening,” said Angela Hoy, seventh and eighth grade science teacher from Lancaster City Schools. “The science is really in-depth. They’re showing you how to use it in your classroom.”
During the two weeks of in-classroom instruction, teachers were given resources that cash-strapped school districts often can’t afford. Marie Mertz, eighth grade science teacher from South-Western City Schools was impressed. “The flash drive is so well organized. The resources we’re getting are wonderful. We have little resources and no budget. The stop watches and digital scales are great.”
The OP2 course includes two weeks of in-classroom summer instruction and five one-day sessions through March 2013, including attendance at the Science Education Council of Ohio’s Conference in February 2013.