The DeHavilland Blog

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bringing young scientists into the classroom

Now this is exciting (courtesy of the NASSMC newsbrief):

News Brief #3557 Category: Postsecondary Education
TITLE: “The Sounds of Science”

Mya Thompson, a graduate student in Cornell University’s department of neurobiology and behavior, is sharing her love of science with middle-school students through a National Science Foundation fellowship.

The $50-million fellowship program aims to get enthusiastic young scientists into the classroom to excite schoolchildren. At the same time, the experience forces the grad students to practice talking about science in a way that non-scientists can understand.

“You have to be able to not just talk like you’re in a scientific conference,” Thompson says.

Thompson teaches boys at the Hillside Children’s Center, in Varick, New York, about the nature of sound. She has taught lessons on how sound is produced, how it travels, and how it looks in soundscapes, scientific graphs of soundwaves.

After recording outdoor sounds on campus for a 24-hour period, Thompson shows the students soundscapes of periodic five-minute intervals. Red spikes indicate a louder sound, yellow spikes represent medium-loud. The boys study the graphs and guess at what the sounds might be.

Ms. Thompson also shares soundscapes from her research in the Central African Republic. She is recording elephant sounds, looking for ways to distinguish between male and female, young and old. She hopes her work will aid in counting the animals and bolstering conservation efforts.

SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 April 2006 (A64)

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