Even as a die-hard science geek, molecular biologist Melanie Peffer found her science classes painfully boring. It wasn’t until she started engaging in authentic scientific inquiry in real-world labs that she realized science is actually nothing like what she learned in school.
Real-world science is dynamic, she discovered. It’s messy. And above all, it’s a verb — something you do.
Yet too many students have come to view science as a noun, or something they can passively learn about by listening to the teacher, following the lab recipe or reading a textbook.
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Experts agree that authentic STEM learning experiences are the key to engaging students in science while teaching them critical skills like scientific reasoning. But delivering these types of experiences can be tough for teachers, who may not have the time or support to partner with scientists or design real-world projects from scratch.