So there I was at the last session of Science Online 2010, awash in wonderment at how energized I felt (as opposed to a more typical end-of-conference malaise), and thinking that it couldn’t have gotten any better than it already was, when lo and behold along comes Stacy Baker and her students from Staten Island Academy. Their session, "Blogging the Future—The Use of Online Media in the Next Generation of Scientists," blew me and the 30-odd participants in the room right out of the proverbial water.
Here is Miss Baker’s introduction to her session:
As Miss Baker notes, each student talked about a passion of theirs related to learning and the web. All six of those presentations follow.
Watching (and recording) students’ presentations, I was struck by how articulate and sage they were. They reminded me of a program launched back in the late 1990s called ThinkQuest—an annual international website competition for students ages 9 to 19 years old. Now owned by the Oracle Education Foundation, ThinkQuest was originally founded by Advanced Network & Services, Inc., a company for which I actually worked in the early 2000s.
But I digress. My point is, I was as awed by the ThinkQuest websites as I was by Miss Baker’s students’ presentations. When kids are empowered to harness their own passion and creativity in using technology for teaching and learning, the results can be astounding. As adults, we don’t often give kids enough advance credit for this. We don’t hold them capable. I think it’s fear that keeps us from empowering them—fear that we will lose control, that we don’t know enough, that we aren’t good facilitators. Miss Baker and her students remind us of the positive learning that results when we sit back and let our kids do the technological driving.