Thursday, May 23, 2019

How We Were Able to Skype With 4 Scientists

Sometimes cool things can happen when you simply ask. This year, one of our science teachers wanted me to help her arrange Skype sessions with a geneticist. When I met her for our preliminary meeting, I had no idea she would ask for so many connections in one day. I had offered to record a Skype session with one scientist so she could show her other classes, but the teacher requested that we find four scientists to connect with live for all of her classes if possible. In the past, after I discovered the Skype a Scientist program, I had only requested to connect with one scientist at a time. You can read about our first ever connection with a scientist through the program here.

After considering her request, I told the teacher we would fill out four forms and see what would happen. I knew this could be a great opportunity for her students to learn from experts in the field of genetics. I didn't know if the Skype a Scientist program would be able to fill our request. Days went by, and I wondered what the outcome might be.

The email came from Skype a Scientist a few days later informing me that they had found four scientists for us to connect with! The teacher and I were both super excited. After a few weeks, I had received emails from the individuals, and we began planning our Skype session for each of the four classes. We also had practice connection sessions via Skype when possible to ensure everything was working well.

Science Teacher, Mrs. Akin, connects with a scientist via Skype

The teacher began communicating with the four scientists and sharing what content she wanted her students to cover during the sessions. Some scientists sent ancillary materials for the students to review before they met so they could get an idea of what type of work they did. On the day of the sessions, all the connections were successful, and the students were very engaged. They asked good questions and made excellent use of the opportunity.

I'd like to thank Skype in the Classroom, the Skype a Scientist program, Dr. James Priest, Dr. Sarah Prescott, Ms. Syndell Parks, and Ms. Niranjana Krishnan for making these connections possible!

From an advocacy standpoint, I have reflected on how great Skype a Scientist has been for our high school library program. As a secondary teacher librarian, I have a flexible schedule. I think it is extremely valuable when I can use this flexible time to help teachers connect with professionals outside of our school walls! This is important because many teachers simply struggle to have time to make arrangements for connections in the classroom. I've also found that many teachers do not feel comfortable using webcams in the classroom. They tend to appreciate the support we can give in the library media center. I like to do shout outs to the teachers on social media after they step out of their comfort zones for sessions like these. It is beneficial for our learning community to see this via my social media since other teachers, administrators, and parents see the library being used this way. Have you helped teachers connect their students to professionals in distant places? Be sure to share your connection stories in the comments below. Keep connecting!

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