In an era when science changes on a daily basis, it is so important to have opportunities for the involement of the community in the explorations made by our students. When so much focus has been placed upon the mastery of content standards, sometimes educators tend to swing right along with the pendulum. There are many ways in which we can involve our local community. In doing so, we engage them in the on-going learning that we all do as passionate teachers. One way that we can engage them is to ask for their help in mentoring our students as they conduct original research projects. These forays into true inquiry by our students are truly engaging for the teacher, student, and community mentor. Sometimes we assume that mentors need to be university professors, or scientific idustrial partners, but local business can also be utilized in any part of the country. Where I live, I have utilized local dairy farmers, partnering students as they explored protein content in milk from cows at various stages of lactation, or as they explored the evolution of bacteria in the guts of such bovines. Even the local Bee Keepers can be a great resource.
These partnerships are not onlybeneficial for the individuals involved, but are wonderful opportunities for much needed public relations opportunties. Eventhough I got a couple of bee stings out of the outing, the student’s comments after seeing drones, queen cells, and larvae make it all worth while. I just took this picture yesterday. Exploring the production of Defensin by Bees is a great partnership between these two people. The bee keeper is very interesting in organic farming practice, and the student is looking at the bee’s natural responses to infection. A match made in heaven.