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Guest Adrian Dingle

Why must Science be fun?

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I, too, have trouble with the concept that everything has to be "fun". I also agree that good teachers need to do things to engage the students, and that those things could be "fun".

I enjoy teaching biology to non-majors - the other biologist at my college thinks I'm nuts! But part of the reason I enjoy it (more so than many of my majors courses) is that the students come at the subject from a fresh point of view. Often, they've avoided it because they aren't "good" at it or they're afraid of it - but if I can engage them they'll ask completely unexpected questions; questions that get ME thinking about things in a different way.

I do some "glitzy" things (Cell morphology Jeopardy, for example) - some of which I learned teaching 1st through 8th grade science at a private school - but mostly I just try and capture their attention. I don't make it easy (the typical score on my first exam is not pretty - and overall there are very few A's and B's at the end), but I try to make it interesting.

In that regard, I have to say that technology can actually get in the way. I almost never use videos unless I've made them myself or they're illustrative animations. I do Powerpoint presentations, but I often find students copying what's being projected instead of listening. I've had students tell me to turn the damn computer off and use the board - and if I do I find I become "looser" and more engaged myself. Sometimes (maybe often) "newer" isn't better.

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