Students worked in small groups to learn about scientists from a variety of countries, personal circumstances and educational backgrounds and then presented their findings with a poster.
As fifth-graders embark on a new year of science, teacher Brandon Vick wants to be sure they understand who can be a scientist — anyone and everyone! For this project, students worked in small groups to research a particular scientist and then shared what they discovered with their classmates. Vick selected scientists from all over the world and a variety of personal circumstances and educational backgrounds.
“Introducing fifth-grade students to diverse scientists and their important contributions is crucial, as it fosters an inclusive understanding of the scientific world and its history. By showcasing a variety of scientists from different backgrounds and cultures, students not only learn about groundbreaking discoveries but also develop a broader perspective on the potential for scientific innovation,” he said. “This exposure encourages empathy, critical thinking and the recognition that anyone, regardless of their background, can play a significant role in shaping our understanding of the natural world and solving global challenges.”
Nolan Rivers researched George Washington Carver with classmates James Wu and Andrew Riek. “The most interesting thing I learned about him is that he made products with peanuts and invented a lot of products to help farmers with their crops,” he said.
“What I thought was most interesting about Mary Golda Ross was that she graduated high school and college two years early,” Maegan Collins, who partnered with Jordan Rouse and Sielle Hall, said.
Vick said he hoped students would see themselves as fledgling scientists, too. “Learning about diverse scientists also nurtures a sense of belonging for all students, inspiring them to pursue their own scientific interests and ambitions with confidence,” he said.
“I like science a lot more than before,” Sielle said of the impact of the project and class presentations. “I liked learning interesting facts as part of this project.”
LEFT: George Washington Carver poster by Andrew Riek, James Wu and Nolan Rivers. “The best part of working on this project was that I could work with friends,” Andrew said.
RIGHT: In this detail from their poster about Carver, the students identify growth-mindedness, a Lead From Here competency, as they explore the innovations he pioneered. “I think the class enjoyed learning about what Carver did to help farmers by inventing things to help them grow their crops better,” James said.
LEFT: Marie Curie poster by Addy Pellicciotti and Jozi Brandon. “My favorite part was being able to work with a good friend. We were so compatible that it was an easygoing project,” Addy said.
RIGHT: “The most interesting thing I learned about Marie Curie was that she had two daughters, and one wrote a biography for her after she died,” Jozi said. “She also had a foundation created in her memory.”
LEFT: Mary Golda Ross poster by Jordan Rouse, Maegan Collins and Sielle Hall. Jordan said she loved pretty much everything about the project: “The best part was when I had to present it and do the decorations and work with my friends!”
RIGHT: In their “Fun Facts” about Ross, the students identify her work in support of other Indigenous women in science as important.