Even before the age of the internet, some teachers encouraged top students to follow their passion areas by contacting experts to learn more than the traditional curriculum. It was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ pedagogical strategies. When it involved writing letters, the student numbers involved were likely small; plus, students would have gained considerable knowledge in formulating questions and perhaps getting ready for a follow-up phone call or even a visit to a local university.
What has happened now that scientists’ contact information is readily available online?
Well-known scientists are being spammed by an overwhelming number of students’ questions. Some of these questions are not very well thought out
. Furthermore, the email questions are probably not moderated by teachers. John Hawks pointed out in his blog
that at times he gets more emails from middle and high school students than he gets from his actual undergraduate students who are paying for the access. Even when the questions are very reasonable, this can be an onerous task. He points out that large organizations like NASA have communications departments to handle the questions, while an individual research lab does not have that luxury.
To avoid the problem of inundating the experts, many schools put on special ‘Expert Days
’. Through these special days, teachers invite or use video conferencing to bring experts in to the classroom. DNA Day in Canada
is one such ‘expert day’ and the work of rounding up the scientists has been done for you. Check out the great resources on the chat log page
which have been categorized into five big questions. Help your students prepare to get the most out of these valuable interactions. And make sure to block the time to spend on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 with Canada’s DNA experts. DNA Day in Canada
You can also find me on