• iceberg
  • boy with flowers
  • checking water quality
  • planet eclipse
  • solarsystem model
  • rangitoto trees
  • kids with test tubes
  • kids with earth
  • snowy mountains
  • teens in physics class
  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Teacher Education in Science

First-ever #SciChatNZ takes place

Tweeting science teachers met up for a chat last week.

The inaugural #SciChatNZ took place last week and has already established itself as an exciting new platform for science teachers.

Comments like ‘that was magic!’ and ‘how can I possibly sleep now?’ ended the session, which included more than 400 tweets deeply discussing science education in New Zealand.

The live chat format works by tweeters using the hashtag #SciChatNZ in their tweets at a designated time and responding to question prompts from the chat host.

Timed to fill the space between the popular and long-running #EdChatNZ, which takes place on alternate Thursday evenings, #SciChatNZ was first conceived by Rachel Chisnall and some fellow tweeting science teachers.

Rachel set up the hashtag and a corresponding Twitter account and publicised its use at SciCon14 in Dunedin in July. She then collaborated with Matt Nicoll and Chhaya Narayan to create the fortnightly event. Support was also given by teacher Danielle Myburgh, who helped to bring the #SciChatNZ under the umbrella of the greater #EdChatNZ community.

Since then, tweeting English teachers have established #EngChatNZ, held at the same time. In fact, some teachers used their fast-thinking, multi-tasking minds to join in with both chats.

The science chat was well attended by primary and secondary teachers, as well as academics and practicing scientists.

Getting started

Christchurch chemistry teacher Matt Nicoll led the chat by introducing questions to guide the discussion. The questions were as follows:

Q1: What are your feelings when you recall science at school?

Q2: What do you love about teaching science?

Q3: What do you see as the biggest barriers to student enjoyment of science in school?

Q4: How do we keep students engaged in science?

Q5: Why do students (and the community) perceive science as "hard"?

Q6: How does your current science teaching cater for students' inherent passions/interests in science?

Q7: Primary students seem to love science. How can secondary/specialist teachers support science education in primary schools?

Q8: How do you maintain your love for science?

Each question was hotly debated, with additional ‘side-discussions’ taking place, too, on everything from the accessibility of cutting-edge education research to the way students themselves feel about their science class content.

Matt says he was overwhelmed by the energy and enthusiasm for science education that revealed in the chat.

“It was incredible to see such a range of science educators involved, from pre-service teachers to university lecturers and researchers,” he says. “I can only hope that our future topics invoke the same level of collaboration and interest.”

Tips for non-twitter users

Not on Twitter, but keen to take a look at the chat’s progression? Rachel Chisnall has created a Storify record of the event, which can be found here.

Want to join Twitter and add your voice to the discussion? It’s easy to sign up and tweeting couldn’t be simpler. Find a starter’s guide here.

Are you wondering exactly how a live chat on Twitter works? Here is a guide put together for #edchatNZ.

Click here for some useful Twitter tips, to improve your experience on the platform.

Future chats

In keeping with the open and democratic nature of a live Twitter chat, participants will be able to vote on which topics are next discussed. Matt says there will be four topics to choose from for the next chat on August 14. Links to the voting form will be made available on Twitter after the #edchatNZ conference.

The proposed topics are:

  • Managing assessments and the Nature of Science
  • The future of the science fair
  • Science education in primary schools
  • Authentic scientific learning experiences at school

Join in next time

The dedicated science twitter chat will now take place on alternate Thursday evenings, from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, and interested teachers and/or scientists are invited to take part. The next chat will take place on August 14, 2014. Please check the #SciChatNZ Twitter account for updated details.

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