May 31, 2017
The Skype a Scientist program is looking to increase their scientist database for K-12 classrooms to connect with in the upcoming academic year. From their website (http://www.skypeascientist.com/):
Skype a Scientist matches scientists with classrooms around the world! Scientists will skype into the classroom for 30-60 minute Q and A sessions that can cover the scientist’s expertise or what it’s like to be a scientist. We want to give students the opportunity to get to know a “real scientist”, and this program allows us to reach students from all over the world without having to leave the lab! We have over 500 scientists ready to chat, and teachers can choose the type of scientist that will fit their classroom. Let’s start a conversation!
This program was started by Sarah McAnulty, a graduate student in molecular and cell biology at the University of Connecticut, and is open to classrooms and scientists from across the globe.The idea is for scientists to have a conversation with a classroom, not a formal presentation. I know that for myself, I don’t often have the time when I can get away from campus and visit a K-12 classroom in person (and now, many schools require clearances to be in classrooms with minor children). Skype a Scientist is an easy way to do outreach in a live, engaging interface.
Having access to a scientist, even virtually, can make a difference for a student that is considering a science career, or even for a student that hadn’t considered science as a future direction of study. Some schools are not in close proximity to a scientist, or a museum. the Skype a Scientist platform gives schools with internet connectivity (and schools that do not have Skype blocked) the ability to allow students to access scientists, and vice-versa.
The website has additional information and a registration form for scientists and for teachers. There are currently over 500 scientists registered in the database across 20 categories. There are maps that show the classroom and scientist locations, clearly showing the global interest in this program.
Sarah is trying to recruit 1,000 scientists to register for this free program. Registration is easy and you can define how many classrooms you would like to be matched with. Please consider joining this important outreach program.
Personal note: This free “matching” service for classrooms and scientists is important, and I will be signing up myself to participate. However, I feel obligated to say that when I saw the list of scientist career fields to select from, I was very disappointed. Half of the listed fields are biology/medicine. There are several sub-disciplines of the life sciences listed, but only one “chemistry” option. Physics and astronomy are separate, but geology is just one option. I did email Sarah to ask if she could include “oceanography” instead of just “marine biology”, and I was pleased to see her include this broader category for the marine sciences. But several fields represented by AGU scientists and STEM fields where women/minorities are underrepresented, are not part of the scientist list. Hopefully, as this database grows, an increasing number of diverse STEM fields will be options for not just scientists but also for K-12 classrooms.
Note that Skype a Scientist is a separate service from Skype in the Classroom.