A few weeks ago, I blogged about my plans to bring in special guest, bio-chemist Erika Ebbel, to our class. Well, today all three of my classes had the unique experience of having this video conversation with Erika. Erika was profiled on The Secret Life of Scientists which is a wonderful site where students can learn about many different types of science and the real people who live it daily. Additionally, Secret Life of Scientists provides video snippets into the “secret lives” of these brilliant folks allowing students to get a glimpse of the diverse interests and hobbies that even “really smart” people enjoy!
Leading up to our conversation today, I prepared my students by watching Erika’s videos (each one is no more than a few minutes) and having some conversations in class about the context. It was very good for the students to see Erika speak to the fact that she studied very hard and did well in school, continues to study science (and loves it) and entered and won beauty pageants. Perhaps the most interesting to the students was the video, Whiz Kids, where Erika explains how, when she was in 11 years old, she got her idea for a project to see if cells commit suicide when diseased. She got her idea from visiting a crocodile farm where she learned that when crocodiles become fatally wounded, they roll over in the water and commit suicide. She goes on to describe how she set and achieved her goal to conduct this experiment. The challenges she faced with her experiment were not much unlike some of the challenges my students are facing with their own Science Fair experiments. Some of my students are also finding their results to be inconclusive or that the resources they need are not readily available and so they need to change their plans.
This was a great opportunity for my students to ask Erika questions about their projects, science, the beauty pageant or anything really. The students prepared questions and we were ready to go.
Erika graciously agreed to do this video conference with me three times (so that each of my classes could benefit). I didn’t want to consume too much of Erika’s time, so I vetted the questions in advance and only a few students in each class asked their questions.
Erika is incredibly engaging and developed a lovely rapport with the students right away. She obliged us with talk of her awards and achievements, but you could tell she was much more comfortable talking about where she/we still needs to go. It’s clear how passionate she is about her work and how much she wants young students to develop the same love for science and math that she’s embraced.
There were many messages to be gleaned from the conversations and I’ll be spending some time next week debriefing with the students and having them work on their own “Secret Life of Students” profiles where they will identify their own areas of expertise to share with others.
I want to thank Erika for spending so much time with me and my students. Additionally, I’d like to thank Tom Miller and Karen Laverty (some behind-the-scenes folks from The Secret Life of Scientists) who helped facilitate this wonderful instructional experience that my students will surely remember always.
Special thanks to Ms. New, university student from FAU, for all her EXTRA help that day!
Update: Secret Life invited me to be a post a guest blogpost. Check it out here!
To Ms. Kolbert’s 4th grade science students:
I really enjoyed reading about the conversations you were having with Erika Ebbel. Sounds like you asked her some really good questions! I know you are going to have fun working on the “Secret Life of Students” and I’ll look forward to hearing more about that in the future.
Keep up the good work as science students, and good luck finishing your science fair projects. Many of my high school students in Physics are getting ready to go off to college to study engineering, medicine, and other science related fields. One of them just won $1000 as a finalist in the Greater St. Louis Science Fair! I bet my students would enjoy reading about your “Secret Lives” too!
Mrs. Ellen Wilke
Parkway West High School
St. Louis, MO
it waz really fun
I participated in this activity ad it was fun and i had a great expirience!!!
I learned what i can do to measure the amount of force I exert on an object!
Im from Mrs.Kolberts class. Talking with Mrs.Ebbel was a great experience and I’m really glad I got to meet her. Erika Ebbel was very inspiring , her work is greatly appreciated and she really shows that hard work pays off and that even hard workers can find time to do what they enjoy most.
Im from Mrs.Kolberts class and I had an amazing experience meeting Erika!
I enjoyed talking to Mrs. Ebbel; she was nice and smart. I felt more intelligent after talking to her.
I hope to be as successfull as her someday.
When we were talking to Erika Ebbel, I enjoyed talking to her. Even though my question wasn’t picked, she answered all my question.
I also asked two other questions but they weren’t picked!!!!!!!
I thought it was a great expierence talking to a real live scientist and knowing about her “secret life”. I’m so happy I could do this (most likely I would not do this in any other class). I hope everyone had as good as a time as me. THANK YOU MRS. KOLBERT!!!!!!!!!!
I was really excited when my question was picked!!!!!!!! I realy enjoyed this!!
It was really cool how we got to talk to a biochemist from Boston.I bet that almost all of the other 4th graders in Florida don’t get to video chat with a biochemist
I was never able to ask my question, yet if I did then i would be the only person (other then Jack) to ask about my science project.
In my class I was the first one to speak even though I didn’t write a question. As you might know my science experiment totally screwed up and i got to ask Erika Ebbel what might have went wrong. She said I might have not added enough alum or it was that one experiment. She said that I should have tried it a couple more time, I did and it did not work. Talking to Erika Ebbel was really fun and it was also fun listening to her responses.
I was a bit dissapointed when my question wasn’t picked:[
[…] Mrs. Kolbert’s Class Blog » Blog Archive » Secret Life Revealed: BU Scientist Visits 4th Grade v… today all three of my classes had the unique experience of having this video conversation with Erika. Erika was profiled on The Secret Life of Scientists which is a wonderful site where students can learn about many different types of science and the real people who live it daily. (tags: skype_in_classroom expert_voices) […]
I was there and I asked her a question. It was an experience I will never forget.:)
I’ve seen a lot of sites in this niche, but I must say that his is one of the best. I’ll definitely be checking back for more good posts. Thanks
The “Spoil the soil” one was awsome. We are also doing videos, but about the water cycle. Please come and look at our videos on our school website in our LEEP section.
I am Anastasia from Berwick Lodge PS in Victoria, Australia. Thankyou for posting films, it has inspired us to film some movies. If you would like to look at our films. http://berwicklodgeps.globalstudent.org.au/