Facebook alum’s startup makes science class more fun for budding innovators

MysteryScience cofounder Doug Peltz Image Credit: MysteryScience

MysteryScience cofounder Doug Peltz
Image Credit: MysteryScience

“Science class is basically vocabulary class today.” That’s Keith Schacht, cofounder of MysteryScience, a startup coming out of stealth today.

He says kids figure out by the sixth grade whether they like science or not, and it’s important to find a way to break away from these vocabulary classes and hook more kids into science before they reach that critical age.

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TalentSparks Teacher Development Program, #BIO2013


This morning I had the chance to talk to 30 highschool teachers who were participating in the iBIO Institute EDUCATE Centers TalentSparks teacher development program. Since 2007, iBIO Institute’s TalentSparks! biotechnology teacher development series has included hands-on skills development; presentations by leading researchers and experts from industry, government, and academic research institutions; and tours of facilities. This year's program is happening in conjunction with BIO 2013.

It is no surprise that the US is trailing much of the world when it comes to math and science educaion. The graph below shows how we compare.

The U.S. public education system is trying any number of techniques—from charter schools to presidential initiatives to oil-company-run teacher academies—to catch up to countries like Finland and South Korea in math and science education. But policymakers seem to be overlooking one simple solution: requiring math and science teachers to progress further up the educational ladder before they teach those subjects to kids.

David E. Drew, writing for a Slate series on science education, wrote that one way to keep good teachers in the classroom is by offering opportunities to receive additional training. “Most important is professional development, the process of renewing and upgrading teacher knowledge and competencies,” he wrote. Teachers from countries at the top of worldwide education rankings share this idea. With TalentSparks we are leveraging industry resources to help teachers and help tie the work the students are doing in the lab, to real life jobs.

We need to arm our teachers with the skills and resources they need to excite and inspire the next generation of innovators.

Today the teachers are visiting the convention. They will be walking the exhibit floor and attending afternoon sessions. We have all had teachers who have inspired us, I hope that if you run into one of the TalentSparks teachers you will take the time to talk with them and share your experiences. I will write more in the future about the programs EDUCATE is running to help teachers in the classroom, and how you can get involved.

Do you have news you would like to share, ideas about articles, or just something you want to get off your chest. Share them with me, john@catalyzingillinois.com. This is a conversation, not an editorial. Did I forget something, get it wrong or do you agree? Please Comment, Like, Re-Tweet and Share.