Many of our readers know that science education can play an important role in helping people understand and connect with nature. We, the BEETLES team, also firmly believe that science education is implicitly linked to civic engagement and citizenship. BEETLES activities are designed to support students in developing skills needed to participate in civil discourse, to engage in argument based on evidence, to examine and critique evidence and the quality of its source, to understand multiple viewpoints, to be open-minded to new ideas, and to think critically about the world around them. We know that these qualities are essential today, and every day — and not only for the students who have access to high-quality educational experiences but for all students.
One of our partners in the field just sent us this story about teaching science in the field and its transference to citizenship:
“After class the other day, we concluded with a discussion on the skills they’d worked on during class. When asked why it’s important to know how to provide evidence and ask others for evidence, one girl said (I’m paraphrasing), ‘Some scientists make mistakes or even lie. We need to be able to ask them why they think what they think.’ To which another student responded (again, paraphrasing), ‘And sometimes people lie and don’t have any evidence to support their ideas.’ Not necessarily uplifting, but gave me hope in light of some current events that we’re helping the next generation think critically about what they are told.”
One of the main reasons we do what we do is to see if we can help instructors influence the next generation of decision-makers, teaching young people to not only have a scientific mindset and appreciate the environment but to also how to engage in respectful discourse with those who have different opinions. We’re proud to do this meaningful work and honored to know so many of you who are diligently putting your hearts and brains into making positive impacts in the world.
In this spirit, we’d like to draw attention to the six science discussion videos we published recently that address how instructors can support students develop these abilities. We’d also like to whet your appetites for one of the brand new unpublished student activities coming soon, titled Argumentation Routine, which explicitly helps students learn these skills.
We’re also pleased to share the following two recently released statements from the institutions that house BEETLES, the Lawrence Hall of Science and the University of California. May they inspire you and the work you do in your own institutions.
Lawrence Hall of Science Oath
Written by Rena Dorph, Interim Director, 1/20/2017
We pledge to continue and strengthen our work…
to expand access to STEM learning opportunity,
to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation,
to support educators to activate and engage learners,
to promote evidence-based thinking
to improve scientific and environmental literacy locally, nationally, and global, and
to inspire and prepare young people to face complex global challenges.
Rest assured that we at the Hall will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of inspiring and fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for all. We will continue to be guided by our core values of equity, learning, innovation, leadership, and excellence—so that we may be the change we want to see in the world.
UC statement on President Trump’s Executive Order
Issued by President Janet Napolitano and the Chancellors of the University of California, 1/29/2017
We are deeply concerned by the recent executive order that restricts the ability of our students, faculty, staff, and other members of the UC community from certain countries from being able to enter or return to the United States.
While maintaining the security of the nation’s visa system is critical, this executive order is contrary to the values we hold dear as leaders of the University of California. The UC community, like universities across the country, has long been deeply enriched by students, faculty, and scholars from around the world, including the affected countries, coming to study, teach, and research. It is critical that the United States continues to welcome the best students, scholars, scientists, and engineers of all backgrounds and nationalities.
We are committed to supporting all members of the UC community who are impacted by this executive action.