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How to Engage Kids in STEM -with Science Heroine Gail Emilsson

Dr. Gail Emilsson and Mitch

Where does Interest in Manufacturing careers start?  One place is at Science Museums.  Did you know that there are over 180 science centers and museums in the United States? Collectively they reported total attendance of over 67 million visits, with 12% of those through off-site events and programs, such as school outreach. Today we talk with Dr. Gail Emilsson, a leading expert in museum curriculum and learning methods, and we’ll see how active learning integrates with STEM / STEAM and a career track at the Factory of the Future®!

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Show Notes

EPISODE TITLE: How to Engage Kids in STEM – with Science Heroine Gail Emilsson

EPISODE SUMMARY:  How do you engage today’s young minds and get them to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? How do get their eyes off their phones and video games and into an equally stimulating environment that teaches the lessons, knowledge and skills needed for a successful start in hot job areas?

This week we interview Gail Emilsson, Professional Learning Developer and Facilitator of the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, CT.  I have named her “Heroine of Science”, out of admiration for what she does.

Next Generation Science Standards:

NGSS enable students to learn science by doing science. It also teaches critical thinking and reasoning skills important for learning how to develop theories and test and prove them. It is a significant upgrade to most primary and secondary school science curricula, and was designed by State teaching associations for a flexible method to adopt by each independent school board.

About our Guest Gail Emilsson: 

Dr. Emilsson came to the field of education a little later than some, attracted to education from her own experience of earning a bachelor’s degree part-time while working a full-time job. Her drive to create impactful and high quality educational curriculum is fueled by imagining what could be and creating experiences for learners to bring them there. Todays’ children need immersive encounters requiring an abundance of active engagement, that involves both the student and the teacher. Dr. Emilsson’s approach has received accolades in the primary and secondary school systems, and as a new method for teaching teachers. She has held Adjunct Faculty positions at the University of Hartford, and Central Connecticut State University, in addition to teaching in the New Haven School System for 9 years. Dr. Emilsson obtained her Doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Yale University and her Bachelors degree in Biotechnology from Northeastern University.

Link to the Connecticut Science Center: Click Here

Notes from the Show:

“over a quarter million (visitors/year to the CT science center), that’s we’re seeing every year. And that’s just general visitors, but we also have so many field trips that are coming in, and those also turn into discovery center programs here.”

Atrium with Atlas Rocket
United Technologies Display
Black & Decker Expose


Episode 5Dr. Gail Emilsson – Science Hero for Kids

[00:00:00] Mitch: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of factory of the podcast. I’m Mitch Kennedy co-founder and host of the podcast. And with me in the studio today is Dr. Gail and Molson profess professional learning specialist with the Connecticut science center. Welcome to our podcast, Gail

[00:00:20] Gail: Thanks, Mitch.

[00:00:22] Great to be here.

[00:00:22] Mitch:  Well it’s great to have you here. I’m so excited. I’m getting ahead of myself. So basically the way we usually start this series of podcasts is we ask people about their origin story. So you are working at the Connecticut science center, which is the preeminent science museum in the Northeast.

[00:00:41] If you will, for the state of. And you’re doing a lot of curriculum development and training and program development for the people who come here and the students and teachers. And so we want to get into that, but before we do, I want to know how you got to here.

[00:00:58] Gail: It was a long and [00:01:00] twisty road.

[00:01:00] A lot of. Different choices along the way. But when I was growing up, I loved PBS and Nova programming and we watched the. On TV a lot. And especially we tried to convince our parents that we could watch TV during dinner, as long as it was educational TV. So that was the motivation. But I just loved hearing about science from a story perspective and I, and I.

[00:01:29] I love making connections myself and hearing something that reminded me of something else. And then I would make that connection. And so I was always really interested in science and math and didn’t really have a good sense of what I wanted to do with myself. And people talk to me and said, oh, science and math, you should be an engineer.

[00:01:51] And even though my dad was an engineer, I did not understand what that meant. I was like, I don’t want to work on a railroad. Where are you talking about? [00:02:00] But I did go to college for engineering. I ended up deciding I just, I struggled a lot with. The college experience. I changed my major. I changed schools and then I dropped out because I just did not know what I wanted to do.

[00:02:24] And I actually worked full time at McDonald’s the one that’s right outside, fell away for a year. And while I was there Friend found out about an opportunity to be a receptionist at a biotech company in Boston. So I did that. And then after I’d been there for maybe nine months or so, they were looking for somebody to work in the lab.

[00:02:49] And I had been watching the people that worked in the lab and I said, I can do that. So with one year of college and no degree, I said, yeah, I want to [00:03:00] apply for this job. And I think they saw it as a great opportunity because they had me continue as a receptionist, but also do some lab work and ensure they were paying

[00:03:12] But I loved it. And they had tuition reimbursement. So I said okay. I still not convinced that this is my forever career, but I’m not gonna give away a free college education. So I started taking courses that related to the work that I was doing, and this was a pharmaceutical company, as I mentioned, and I worked in quality control.

[00:03:33] So I was doing lots of. Biological and chemical assays of the products as they were being produced to check to make sure, everything from the incoming raw materials to. Each step along the way to make sure that the process was working as it was supposed to be working. And then all of the maintaining of the equipment that we used and making sure that the equipment was giving us the right answers and [00:04:00] calibrating it properly and maintaining it and all that stuff.

[00:04:02] So that was 

[00:04:03] Mitch: really cool. That’s really cool. And I gotta say that even in my own mind, Pharmaceutical industry is manufacturing. Absolutely. A lot of people, I don’t think of that field as manufacturing, because it’s not like there’s a lot of. Metal involved. You’re not turning the metal, you’re not welding things, you’re just, you’re making little tablets or serums or something.

[00:04:28] Yeah, no, that’s cool. Yeah. So your start was actually in 

[00:04:32] Gail: manufacturing. I 100%. Yeah. And I worked eight years, but at two different small startup companies. And during that time I was finishing my undergraduate degree in biotechnology. And while it was there, I was looking around and deciding that this was a good home for me.

[00:04:52] And I did like this career, but I wanted to be a vice president. So I decided that I needed to get a PhD in [00:05:00] order to make that happen. I went back to school. Full-time. And I earned a doctorate in molecular cellular and developmental biology at Yale, which is how I came to Connecticut. 

[00:05:13] Mitch: It’s really complicated that.

[00:05:16] Gail: getting a science PhD is a ton of fun.

[00:05:20] It’s very little classwork and lots of, is it really the lab research? 

[00:05:26] Mitch: What I would, would’ve thought I was thinking, library, tons of books on both sides of you, big cup of coffee.

[00:05:33] Gail: Yeah, definitely in the library. Although now on the computer, everything, we don’t go to the stacks anymore, but yeah.

[00:05:40] I only took classes for a year and the whole rest of the time I was there, I was doing research and that was that. Such a fun experience because you just have these completely out there conversations with people that are in your lab. We were working in my lab on [00:06:00] molecular evolution. So we took RNA and DNA molecules in test tubes and evolve them to be to perform functions.

[00:06:10] And so this has applications and tie backs to theories about the origin of life. So we would routinely have lab discussions about how it all began on earth, which. Really fun. That is that’s pretty cool. Yeah. But while I was there, that’s how I got interested in education. That was, I was already interested in education because even though it took forever to get my undergraduate degree at night, I really valued the experience because I was able to see the applications of what I was learning in class.

[00:06:50] Every day when I went to work. So I feel like it made for a much better education 

[00:06:57] Mitch: for me studying something. And then the next [00:07:00] day 

[00:07:00] Gail: yeah. And I was really excited. And part of my vision became at, when I was vice-president I was also going to. Teach a night class because I just had such a great experience with it that I wanted to do that in my future too.

[00:07:16] So when I looked for graduate programs, I was looking, one of the things I was looking for was specifically a program that had an education component in it, where you could be a TA or you could, even maybe teach a class. And Yale had a required a requirement to be a teaching assistant which I wanted to do anyway.

[00:07:38] So I did that and I was really heavily involved in all of the. Programs that they offered to help teaching assistants, which you didn’t have to do. And I got involved in generating new programming for teaching assistants, and I also volunteered with the new Haven science fair, new Haven, [00:08:00] public schools, science fairs.

[00:08:01] While I was a graduate student. So that’s how I started getting a connection to K12 education. And then after I earned my degree, I stayed on for a couple of years with my thesis advisor, which is not really typical, but I was going through some. Personal challenges at that time. And it was just, it was, I just needed a stable environment.

[00:08:27] So that’s what I did. And I ended up deciding that. I really was interested in education. I was really distraught at having conversations with people about science and watching their eyes glaze over with the subject that I thought was so fascinating and not understanding why kids were not more interested in science.

[00:08:50] And so I really wanted to do something about that and to be a part of trying to figure out. A solution for getting kids more interested in [00:09:00] science and stem careers. And so I went and got my certification to be a public school teacher. Wow. The Connecticut has a nice program where you can get an accelerated certification in a high need area, which science is one of those high need areas.

[00:09:16] So I did the accelerator program and then I was able to start teaching pretty quickly. And I taught in new Haven for 10 years. Wow. High school chemistry and biology and whatever electives they wanted me to teach. And that was it was so challenging, but the kids are just, they’re just amazing.

[00:09:37] They have, the particular schools where I worked tended to have a population of kids that had a lot of. What 

[00:09:44] Mitch: do you mean by needs? 

[00:09:45] Gail: We were, I think we had 97% free and reduced lunch. We had twice the district average of students with special needs.

[00:09:56] In our school. And just like it just then [00:10:00] just talking to them and hearing their personal stories, homelessness parents that, Might be involved in drugs or trafficking drugs and, just unbelievable circumstances. I had a student who was 20 as a senior in my chemistry class and I hadn’t seen him in a couple of days.

[00:10:19] I called home and found out that he was in jail. It’s just unbelievable challenges, but there’s such amazing human beings. Yeah. And I had another student who was with me for three years. It took her three years to get through chemistry. And part of it, she was struggling with she had a concussion and that was affecting her cognitive abilities.

[00:10:42] But she she just flourished by the end of it. You have to walk this balance between. Giving students what they need, helping them providing for them, but also holding them to a high standard because you need them to be ready [00:11:00] for the world that know the world doesn’t care what they’re.

[00:11:03] Childhood challenges were right. But while I was there, I had an opportunity to start working with teachers and that was really fulfilling for me. I did that because we are doing some initiatives in new Haven. It didn’t feel we’re getting enough support. So as soon as I started feeling more confident with them, I tried to reach out and offer my perspective and my lessons learned to other teachers to help them.

[00:11:31] And that was a great opportunity. And then I had an opportunity to do work with teachers full-time. So I first worked at the Connecticut center for advanced technology for a year. And then got laid off from there. And then I came to the same center. So I feel working with teachers now as learners for three and a half years.

[00:11:57] And that is super fun because in [00:12:00] Connecticut, we adopted new science standards, not quite four years ago. And they’re so exciting because it’s such a great vision for what. Can be for students and not just students that are going into stem careers, but all students and just being able to provide them with not only the knowledge, but also the mindset of how do we live in this highly technological society.

[00:12:28] And I get to help teach them. I understand that vision and put it into practice in their classes. And so I’m impacting, I myself have probably impacted, I don’t know, maybe 200 teachers this year and then they’re impacting maybe a hundred students each. Yeah. So it’s pretty amazing. 

[00:12:52] Mitch: That’s a great way to broaden your reach.

[00:12:53] Yeah. And Here at the science center. Let’s talk a little bit about science center, cause it’s a pretty amazing [00:13:00] place. I’ve lived in Connecticut for quite some time and was around it when the original science center was around. And then now this place has just been built like 10 years ago, 

[00:13:10] Gail: correct.

[00:13:11] Celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. We’ve had all sorts of. At events and activities going on just yesterday. We we received as a gift, a S a flag of the state of Connecticut that went to the international space station. And so that’s now on display in the science center. So

[00:13:36] it looked exactly the same to me.

[00:13:38] Mitch: So that’s great. And tell us a little bit about the science center and give us some facts or some things that you like about it then. 

[00:13:46] Gail: Yeah. If you look at them, the mission of the science center, I’m not going to remember the exact words, but basically it’s this idea of, creating a love of science.

[00:13:58] Last [00:14:00] for a lifetime. Okay. And and that’s really what we think about is that we, obviously we’re a family destination and we get lots of kids in here, but we also would like to see lots of young adults coming here. And we have events that are trying to bring in young adults that are more.

[00:14:19] Themed. We have happy hours every so often. And we have a coffee hour for adults that can get away in the middle of the day. And, we have a women in science program and so just lots of different ways that we’re trying to reach out to the community and. And when you come here, what I really love about the science center is that there are so many hands-on exhibits that don’t, they don’t have, huge wall of reading behind them.

[00:14:53] So it’s really meant to be a really interactive experience and, and just the [00:15:00] design of the whole building. And we S we switched out. The fuel cell that used to be outside. And so we have, I think it’s a cogen something 

[00:15:14] Mitch: code cogeneration system. So that generates all your 

[00:15:17] Gail: electricity.

[00:15:18] I don’t know exactly the details of it, but it’s sitting outside, so it’s outside visible, 

[00:15:24] Mitch: you can see it. Whereas. If I remember the fuel cell was more like a, just a box. 

[00:15:30] Gail: Yeah. It was a new box sitting, a new, smaller rocks or the old box. And and and just the way you have like the staircases that are so visible, that.

[00:15:44] People to, get some exercise. I, when I come in to work, I park on the ground floor and I walk up 200 steps to get to my office between from the ground floor to the lobby and then the lobby up to where my office is. And [00:16:00] I do that because it’s good for you. 

[00:16:02] Mitch: So for our readers or listeners, sorry, listeners, who.

[00:16:06] Having not yet been here, it’s a somewhat narrow with building a it’s very deep and it’s very tall. So it’s five or six floors, six floors, plus there’s a parking garage also, which we don’t really count, you had to build that down as the ground that much to. So it’s a very striking building.

[00:16:26] It has a wave shape to it. And it’s got a big glass wall on one end that overlooks some beautiful buildings, a Hartford, and then the other end, you can see the river. 

[00:16:35] Gail: It’s very cool to work in a landmark. You drive on the highway. There’s my work.

[00:16:43] Mitch: So how many people get to come here? Per year on 

[00:16:46] Gail: average, definitely over a quarter million that we’re seeing every year. And that’s just general visitors, but we also have. We have so many field trips that are coming in and then we have [00:17:00] when the field trips are coming in, they can have discovery center programs here, or we can go to schools.

[00:17:08] So our stem educators will go out and do traveling programs. At schools. And that sometimes will intersect with the work that we do in the Mandela academy, which is my area with teachers. Sometimes we have an opportunity where a traveling program will come in to a class it’ll be taught by one of our stem educators.

[00:17:31] And then one of the professional learning specialists like myself will be sitting with that classroom teacher. And we’ll be talking about what’s different. Just lesson versus the way they may have been doing something, some similar topic with their kids in the past. So we have that kind of cross collaboration, which is really cool.

[00:17:52] And, I was, I am. I brought my children here many times before I ever worked here. I never realized that there [00:18:00] was this arm that was working with teachers. It was a parent and a teacher. And then I realized that the science center was working with teachers. I definitely want people to know.

[00:18:10] The science center is working with teachers. And we are really in a hard push to help teachers with the new science standards, which are K-12. So all public school teachers, private school teachers can be, going to our website and asking what can the science center helped me with? We have a lot of different programs that we offer from just like half day.

[00:18:34] Just here’s what some of the buzzwords are to. Multi-day, spread out over time experiences where we’re working with teachers, having them to try things, bring things back, we dissect what happened and talk about how things might look different in the future.

[00:18:53] A lot of cool stuff. So 

[00:18:55] Mitch: I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and ask you why. Teachers have a [00:19:00] continuing education credits. They have to fulfill to keep their certifications. So are they already, 

[00:19:05] Gail: there is a requirement there, teachers need to have opportunities to CA to get continuing education, but we don’t have to teach us.

[00:19:16] Don’t have to prove their continuing education anymore. It’s just a change to the system. Okay. But definitely, teachers should know. Definitely even if they didn’t have a requirement going to a continuing education, going to professional development, it’s such an invigorating experience to step out of the classroom for a minute and just.

[00:19:41] Remember why you went into the classroom in the first place and remember what it is you’re trying to accomplish there and take some time to reflect on things and say, all right this thing has been frustrating me to no end. And maybe there’s a way I can do it better. And let me talk to this [00:20:00] whole room full of people and.

[00:20:02] These professional learning specialists that work with hundreds of teachers across the state and see if they have any ideas that can help. 

[00:20:10] Mitch: That’s the value add for coming here is just the overview. That’s brilliant. I like it. And so when you’re teaching teachers what are you teaching them about?

[00:20:23] What are some of the topic areas you cover? Or are you just saying, ah, this is, the latest technology. What do you do? 

[00:20:29] Gail: Our philosophy for professional learning is that we want to give teachers an immersive experience where they both get to the, they get a chance to sense whatever it is.

[00:20:46] We’re working on as learners rather than, standing up and reading slides off of the PowerPoint. We want to give them an experience. And then once everybody has a common experience, then we have a foundation [00:21:00] to say, okay what do we learn from. Experience, how do we apply this to our classroom?

[00:21:05] What does this have to do with whatever topic we’re talking about? And so we have a few different kind of major areas that we’re focused in. We have as I mentioned, the next generation science standards, we have several workshops that target different aspects of that from very beginning. Just, I don’t know anything about.

[00:21:25] Tell me something too, week long programs where we’re asking teachers to really dig into what’s different about the science standards, because it’s not just some different content it’s meant to be a completely different way of teaching, potentially depending on how progressive they may or may not have been to begin with.

[00:21:49] How do we how do we make it a more enriching, more student-centered experience for all [00:22:00] learners? That’s the vision of the next generation science standards. So that’s one area. We also have a series on inquiry. Which goes hand in hand with the new science standards, but it can also work into other subjects as well.

[00:22:19] You can take an inquiry approach to other subjects. We have we’ve worked with whole schools that are committed to this idea. And it’s just, it’s really it’s again, how do we create an environment in the classroom where students have an opportunity to explore and discover things and have an authentic reason for learning whatever.

[00:22:44] The thing that they need to learn. 

[00:22:46] Mitch: Can you give us an example of the inquiry approach? If you were going to ask, talk about learning about, say, I don’t know, making paper or. What would it be an inquiry [00:23:00] type approach? 

[00:23:01] Gail: So if you were going to talk about, manufacturing paper, you could take that in a couple of different ways.

[00:23:08] You could talk about the engineering process itself, and you could ask the question, how do I design the best paper-making process? Or how do I get the best paper for me, applicants. Which involves defining whatever application is, which is part of the engineering process. And that’s part of the new science standards.

[00:23:31] That’s one thing that’s so exciting to me is that engineering is in the science classroom. Now it’s not an add on, it’s not an afterschool, it’s not an elective. It’s meant to come into regular. Classroom education. So you can take that approach of looking at it as a engineering design problem, or you could take an approach of looking at it as a purely, physical science problem.

[00:23:59] What [00:24:00] makes paper what happens when you take a log and grind it up and do whatever is the things that they do. 

[00:24:09] Mitch: Yeah, that’s really cool. I like that. You had shown me some of the new standard here. And I think our listeners would be interested in knowing what you think of the different things that you pointed to these as being the things that have been added for those who can’t see, I’m looking at a summary that came from.

[00:24:26] This pen S T a 

[00:24:28] Gail: nationals it’s the national science teaching association and all it is it’s an infographic that they prepared to help communicate to teachers about the new science standards, which are being adopted voluntarily by states. There’s no incentive to, to adopt the new science standards the way there was for the common core.

[00:24:53] State standards for ELA and math that many states adopted. A lot of states are doing what [00:25:00] we call adapting the science standards, where they take big chunks of it, but they may not like one piece or another piece. So they’ve adapted the NGSS. Next generation science standards. And so they’re becoming a net, a set of national science standards, which is also very exciting because it means that, our kids across the nation are all getting access to this high quality education.

[00:25:28] As if they happen to be mobile, they’re moving a lot. They can know that they can go state to state and they’ll still be getting a lot of this. But one of the things about the that I mentioned that is not just different content, there’s a little different kinds. Compared to the old Connecticut science standards.

[00:25:49] It’s more how we’re teaching science. And one of the things is to really focus on learning science by doing science, and so that [00:26:00] goes beyond, okay, here’s a worksheet. Follow the instructions and do this lab activity. It is meant to get into, to go back to our paper problem. Not saying to kids.

[00:26:14] Okay. Kids today, we’re going to learn about how we make paper. It’s saying to kids. Okay. You know what I was I was trying to do this art project and I was doing some watercolors and I didn’t, it didn’t seem to work very well. So I don’t know. I dunno if it’s the pain. I don’t know if it’s the paper. I dunno what I was doing wrong and presenting these scenarios.

[00:26:40] To kids and asking them, can we work on this together? Can we figure this out together and learning the science? Because it’s important to learn science in order to figure out the scenario. So some of the part of doing of science, and when we say doing of [00:27:00] science, we mean, this is what scientists do.

[00:27:03] Mitch: This is how 

[00:27:04] Gail: they solve their problems. That’s how they think about the world. It’s how they approach the research that they’re going to do. And so we want kids to have that mentality, even if they’re not going to be scientists. Yeah. My car is not working. What am I going to do about it? How do you 

[00:27:20] Mitch: figure it out?

[00:27:21] Gail: One of the things that I was pointing out is that we we want to emphasize some of the doing of science that, that traditionally has not been a focus. In science classrooms or in elementary classrooms where we also want to see science happening, for example. So the idea of developing and using models.

[00:27:45] And so when we say that we don’t mean, oh, the students can all reproduce the rock cycle on a test. That’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is, How did Hawaii [00:28:00] come to be? What do you think? W what do you think happened where we’re like, where are the islands coming from?

[00:28:09] Are they floating? Are they like, are they attached through some sort of underwater arm to some landmass nearby? Like where did they come from and asking students. To have a scenario like that, like what’s wrong with the paper or where did Hawaii come from and what do you think right now before we do anything?

[00:28:33] What do you think right now? Let’s get your ideas out. Let’s see what you think. And let’s talk about it and let’s talk. With your peers, what do you think is going on? And then as we start learning, we add some stuff to our model, and then we say, okay, does this model of, paper absorbency or volcanic islands?

[00:28:56] Help me explain something else. Can I [00:29:00] understand this other kind of paper? Can I understand the formation of these other islands? Or do I need to make even more changes to it? And is there some piece that I still don’t understand? So scientists do this all the time, right? They get ideas about how the world works and they might make a diagram of it.

[00:29:19] They might write a computer program for it. They might need to build some sort of a physical model. And then they asked questions and they use the model to test the questions, 

[00:29:30] Mitch: the questions. And they’re not doing it in a room all by themselves either. I think when you said a group, I’m like that is great.

[00:29:37] You’ve got everybody contributing and thinking of what they think, and then we go and test all these things and we see which one holds the water, so to speak. 

[00:29:47] Gail: Yeah. Big idea behind NGSS is that talking is thinking. 

[00:29:54] Mitch: Yeah, we’re talking right now. So we must be, 

[00:29:57] Gail: And then a couple other ones [00:30:00] are constructing explanations and constructing explanations, not regurgitating explanations, but like taking, some learning experiences that the teacher has made available, taking some evidence from that, taking our own personal background on the, we brought in.

[00:30:20] Taking maybe some readings that we did that were purposeful, that helped us because we had a question we wanted an answer to, and then putting it all together to try to explain something or from an engineering perspective, to try to design a solution to something. And, and like we were talking about thinking about, starting at the very first place.

[00:30:47] What are the criteria that you need for a successful solution? Do you need it to be cheap? Do you need it to be quick to produce? Do you need it to be locally sourced? Do you know what do you need? [00:31:00] What are the performance expectations for that? What do you need for that? And then the last one is engaging in argument from evidence and.

[00:31:10] That is probably out of all of them. That’s probably the most important in my mind, because if you think about, as educators, we oftentimes think about what is the, what is our vision of a high school graduate? What do we want to send out into the world? And you talk to teachers and I’ve done this many times.

[00:31:32] They always say the same thing. Everybody always says the same things. We want them to be able to solve problems. We want them to be able to think critically. We want them to be able to evaluate claims, coming at them from news outlets and media sales people and sales and this engaging in argument from evidence.

[00:31:56] That’s the skill that gets them there because it’s [00:32:00] asking them. To really think about, I have this data this person, this sales person, or newscaster, or whomever presented me this day. Do I trust it? How do I know? How, what are the questions I need to ask to decide that, right? And then if I trust it, does it match with all that I’ve learned about science?

[00:32:24] Because if you have an idea that is so far out, that it doesn’t align with anything that we’ve ever thought about science before. That idea is going to require a huge mountain of proof before we can accept 

[00:32:39] Mitch: it. I see. Okay, that’s great. I like it a lot. And so this is just to bring it back to you and the Connecticut science center, you are grabbing these new standards, which include these great things we just talked about, which is going to help shape.

[00:32:58] The experience and [00:33:00] the learning of people in the stem fields that hopefully will go on to take stem type jobs. And your role here is to teach the teachers how about how to teach this. Yeah. And that has just really cool. You are, you’re like, to have this come out and to have the state of Connecticut say, yes, we’re behind this and allow you as a.

[00:33:22] Organization and you in particular to to roll this out and do this as for that, I love it 

[00:33:29] Gail: is I’m really happy that Connecticut adopted NGSS outright didn’t make any changes to it. It’s really. An incredibly ambitious, but worthwhile vision because it’s really meant to be providing students providing high school graduates after they’ve had, 12 or 13 years of science and engineering education.

[00:33:56] Providing them with, some of the same stuff that we want to do here, the [00:34:00] science center, just an appreciation for the universe and how cool it is and how you know, amazing it is that we have the seasons and we have the sun that’s providing us all this energy, and then we have engineering.

[00:34:18] Take this planet that we’re on and change it to the way we want it to be, or the way that, we needed to be because we’re sick or where, we’re injured or we need something from it. And whether you’re going into a stem career or not to have that appreciation to have. The skills to think about how do I, how am I going to be a global citizen?

[00:34:43] How am I going to vote on this piece of legislation? That’s going to impact the environment. Even if I’m not in a stem career. 

[00:34:53] Mitch: Right. Just a good life skills in general. Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much for being on our podcast. Is [00:35:00] there anything else in conclusion or in the future that you see coming around?

[00:35:04] Actually let’s do that again.

[00:35:09] So Gail, I’d like to switch gears a little bit and look towards the future. First we’ve talked about your vision of success here, reaching the teachers and teachers, reaching the students and people being able to go and make an informed decisions through this decision process of analysis and testing models.

[00:35:28] So that life will be better for them. But going beyond that and saying it’s a role of technology and where you see learning and technology intersecting and how that might change going forward into the future. 

[00:35:41] Gail: We do. We do talk about technology a little bit in our workshops, because it can be such an incredibly useful tool.

[00:35:51] Because like just one example there’s an app where you can if you have a small group of six, And they have [00:36:00] done a model of something where the Hawaiian islands came from and they are talking about it and there’s five or six other groups in the class teacher can’t listen to all of them.

[00:36:13] So with the app, you use a tablet, you take a picture of the model and then it starts recording. And whatever the students say becomes an audio file. That’s attached to that image that gets sent to. A virtual folder that the teacher has. So the teacher can listen to the conversation offline and, and get a sense of where the class is at and see what are their ideas coming in.

[00:36:40] Maybe they’ve been watching Nova and they know all about it already. Who knows? So we talk about that, but I think, for our students, I think, one of the kind of themes that we hear about over and over again, it was about how the jobs that a middle schooler [00:37:00] will have don’t exist yet.

[00:37:02] And so interesting. How do you. How do you design a science education to get them ready for, maybe a training program, maybe a college degree for a job that doesn’t exist yet. And 

[00:37:16] Mitch: that’s phenomenal. I never even thought of that. I’ve never heard that either, but that’s so important. It’s like looking at.

[00:37:26] All the centuries where there’s been bakers and woodworkers and farmers and everybody doing pretty much the same thing and the trade schools basically offering to teach them those things. But now we’re in to a place where so fast things are changing all the time. You look back 20 years and you, and I would be like, oh, I didn’t know we were going to have that thing that we have now, like a phone in my pocket that can find any answer I want.

[00:37:54] And I obviates a whole way of learning because if I can look it up, [00:38:00] I can’t really be tested on that. I going to be tested on something else. So what’s left. Thinking is left, so that’s fabulous. But what kind of job are we going to do? 

[00:38:10] Gail: Yeah, I don’t have the vision to think about what kind of jobs might be coming, but I just, I take a backwards approach and look back 10 years, 20 years.

[00:38:20] What were the jobs? What are the jobs that exist right now that didn’t exist 20 years ago and looking at how, the landscape has changed. Even in my personal story, the receptionist job that I took at that biotech company doesn’t exist. I was doing all of the editing of the.

[00:38:41] Procedures that the technicians were using in the quality control lab. I was going through this whole process of making sure that they were reviewed and making sure that they were updated and making sure that everybody had the right copies, that regulatory piece exists. But the fact that I was [00:39:00] doing that I, as a separate person was doing it.

[00:39:03] I’m sure that’s not the case anymore. I’m sure each one of those technicians is doing their own. Because I do my own editing. Nobody’s editing my stuff for me and but I still ha I still have a job. It’s just that my job is different, with the. Technology that I have. And the way that I can just think about things is different.

[00:39:26] And when I started in the classroom, of course we had the internet, I use the internet, but it wasn’t quite as prolific as it is now. So now if there’s something. That I want to make a point with adults or there’s something that, I working with a teacher and they need an idea.

[00:39:50] The, if I’m working with a teacher and they need an idea for their classroom, I’m going to go to the internet first, because there are so many resources available [00:40:00] on the internet. That are free or that you sign up for free, or you pay a small fee for, and, again, I still have a job, but my job is different than it used to be.

[00:40:14] I think without a doubt, all of our kids need to have fundamental understanding of computer lab. Which is getting there. We’re getting to a point of getting computer science standards that we need kids to meet because, we have miniature computers in our pocket. When I was standing at the ceremony yesterday with the flag that went to the international space station, they were talking about.

[00:40:46] The glitches that happened on the Apollo 11 mission. And they were talking about the computers that ran that mission and it’s terrifying. I [00:41:00] have more computing power in my pocket than they had in all of Cape Kennedy. Wow. 

[00:41:07] Mitch: Yeah, 

[00:41:07] Gail: but this is our life now. Yeah. You need a fundamental understanding of that, of just the basics. How great is it? I don’t have this skill, but how great is it? If you can write an app, if you’re like, to, in order to do my job, I need to be able to do X and you write an app and you do it.

[00:41:27] I think that kind of stuff. It’s going to be key, but then also general understanding of science and engineering and the skills that go with it so that you can shift gears as, things come up. Even. Solar and wind turbine installation, right? You that’s not gone off shore.

[00:41:50] Those jobs are here, those jobs, or, almost non-existent right. 20 

[00:41:55] Mitch: years ago. Right now it’s a huge 

[00:41:58] Gail: field. That’s a huge [00:42:00] field. And you need some science. There’s, those are. Those are requiring a lot of hands-on knowledge and mechanical knowledge, but you need some science in order to be able to do those jobs well as well, right?

[00:42:14] Mitch: Yeah. That’s a good point. Excellent point. Excellent. Any parting comments or any other things you want to say about the Connecticut science center? 

[00:42:24] Gail: Definitely come and visit. It’s such a great time. And if you’re a teacher and look at the website and. CT science And see what programs we have available and.

[00:42:36] Come to the adult programming and it’s just, it’s a great, it’s a great resource that we have available and being situated here right in the center of Hartford and just having so many events that are happening on Mortenson Plaza. Right next door. And being sandwiched in between that and the convention center and having all the great restaurants and Yukon coming in.

[00:42:59] It’s [00:43:00] just strictly free revitalization. 

[00:43:02] Mitch: It’s definitely on an upswing. And for those of you who are listening, who have not heard of Hartford, it’s the capital of the state. It’s a two hours to New York city and two hours to Boston by car or slightly longer by train, perhaps. And it is a wonderful place and it’s a home of the Connecticut science center.

[00:43:26] Yeah. So Gail, thank you so much for being on my podcast. I really appreciate 

[00:43:31] Gail: it. It was great. It was my pleasure. 

[00:43:32] Mitch: Thank you. And thanks to all our listeners, we’re going to put the show notes on the website. Under this episode heading put a link to the Connecticut science. Put a link to the new standards for education and K through 12 science based standards.

[00:43:46] And any thing else we’ve mentioned here, we’ll also add in there. So thanks for listening and tune in again next week.

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