Not all scientists are in the teaching profession but all scientists can teach by sharing their knowledge and expertise with others. Conversely, not all teachers are in the practice of involving scientists in their classrooms but all teachers can benefit from scientists sharing their knowledge and expertise with students. All – the students, teacher and scientist – may be equally rewarded by the experience.
One place to start as a teacher is with your students’ parents and their friends’ parents. Invite parents to share their career and professional experiences. Let them talk about what they do, what it’s like at work, and how studying and staying in school is important. Consider allowing them to host students for a field trip or lead in hands-on activities to enrich the curriculum.
One place to start as a scientist is with your children and your neighbor's children, their friends, teachers, and school classes. Other groups and places include: Boy and Girl Scouts, school districts, libraries, and museums. You may choose to give a presentation, be a resource person, or mentor. A single interaction with a teacher or student may be sufficient to initiate and reinforce his/her interest and confidence in science.
Here are tips on how scientists may be useful in the classroom. Teachers should also consider reading the tips to learn how best to use scientists’ most effectively during their visit. With teachers and scientists working together, students will benefit from these partnerships.
Your presentations can range from stories about unusual occurrences, to clinical cases, work experiences, and textbook-like descriptions of microbiology. General, interesting topics include: decay, microbes in our environment, microbiology of food and drug production, infectious diseases and the normal flora of our body (demonstrations to include bacterial cultures of skin, mouth, and other easily accessible sites). More sophisticated topics include: molecular biology, vaccines, immunity, or the infectious disease of the mouth.
Provide Career Information - What do you do as a microbiologist? How did you become a microbiologist?
Provide Advice - What is a good science fair project or science activity which demonstrates scientific inquiry? Where can students go on a field trip?
Provide Resources for Furthering Education - Which schools offer programs in science? What courses should be taken? Where are the resources for financial aid?
Provide Supplies - After all, one person's trash is another person's treasure. Outdated blood agar plates and old equipment are still usable by teachers and students for demonstrations and projects.
Visit a Classroom and become their science consultant.
Advise a student or teacher on careers, projects, or curriculum.
Encourage a student or teacher to shadow you for a day or longer. These experiences provide relevant examples of science in action and make lasting impressions. Observations made by students and teachers provide examples that can be relayed to their class or classmates.
Provide tours to students or teachers
Be a science fair judge or consultant.
Review educational websites and resource materials for ASM. Reviews will be published in ASM News and in the MicrobeLibrary website.
Search for a Scientist: ASM's Science Education Network
A database of scientists who have volunteered to serve as mentors. More than 400 microbiologists available to work with, advise and mentor students.