CEDAR FALLS – University of Northern Iowa education student Hannah Bustamante is experimenting with ways to get children excited about science, and she’s recruited her friend Taco as her lab assistant.
Taco, a turtle that’s found a home at Hartman Nature Reserve, was presented to a group of children from Denver and Waverly on Thursday. She quickly caught their interest and was able to help Bustamante start their lesson on nature, wildlife and conservation.
“We have a lot of kids come through here during the summer for camps, and we’re here to help them learn about nature, learn about different science things to teach them about things that maybe they don’t see in their normal lives,” Bustamante said.
Bustamante is one of 80 externs attached to a program set up by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Advisory Council that pairs 80 teachers with local STEM workplaces.
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“What I want to do here is be able to learn how to incorporate different outside-world things into my future classroom to have more effective teaching,” Bustamante said.
Science often is a subject that’s best learned hands-on, a lesson she has learned quickly. It’s one thing to talk about nature and animals, and another to show them the animals and when possible interact. She’s already found ways to apply this technique outside of her externship.
Bustamente is studying to teach chemistry. She applied her knowledge at a Harry Potter-themed camp in which she taught “potion making” in the form of at-home experiments. She’s also done lessons on the chemistry of starting fires. She says there’s always gets a more positive response when children see things “pop” and “fizz,” and she looks forward to incorporating applied science in the classroom when she has one of her own.
“I think there’s a lot of things that I’ve realized that kids are really interested in and not so interested in that have kind of shown me what I can and can’t bring into the classroom to help them be a little bit more interested.”
“What I want to do here is be able to learn how to incorporate different outside-world things into my future classroom to have more effective teaching.”