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Science Journal For Kids – Finding a Passion Project

April 1, 2022

When I quit my teaching job last June, I worried that I would be lost, not knowing what I wanted to do. I knew I was burned out and needed a break, but I didn’t know what the next step would be.

I didn’t want to lose my connection to science. I love science. I grew up in a science-y family. I have a PhD in biology. I taught biology, environmental science, chemistry, marine biology, coastal ecology, and biologically inspired design over the eight years I taught high school. Science is ingrained in my very being, and I was worried that without a formal and organized outlet for my interest, I would struggle. So, after a short time just recovering last summer, I made an effort to find something that connected to the world of science, even if it was just a little bit.

In that search I discovered Science Journal For Kids. The non-profit organization’s main purpose is to create free Adapted Primary Literature resources to use in middle and high school classrooms. Lots of peer-reviewed scientific research papers are very specific, contain lots of jargon, have complex statistical analyses, and are located behind paywalls. This makes them inaccessible to both teachers and students. The purpose of creating adapted primary literature is to translate these complex research papers into understandable and meaningful records of real-world scientific endeavors at the appropriate reading levels for students. There is lots of education research out there documenting that students learn about the scientific process much better when exposed to adapted primary literature in comparison to other scientific print articles made for the public.

Example of an adapted article from Science Journal for Kids

Exposing students to what real science looks like and fostering a healthy appreciation of the scientific process was always one of my goals as a teacher. Science Journal For Kids seemed like the perfect opportunity to keep my foot in both science and education, so I started on as a volunteer to see what it was like.

Since I started, I’ve done a variety of tasks for the Journal (some of which have earned me some compensation – yay!), but some of my favorites have been writing adapted articles and making/editing video interviews with the original researchers. I’m going to have a whole separate post about the process of writing adapted articles for those of you who are interested in writing strategies and writing in different genres. For now, I’ll just say that the process has been very rewarding.

When I was teaching I used a “flipped classroom” model for all my classes, where students learn material independently outside of class, freeing up class time for hands-on activities and one-on-one instruction. I learned a lot about creating and editing videos, and what students liked and disliked about videos, while I made materials for my students.

I’ve been using these video creating/editing skills to help Science Journal for Kids create video interviews with the researchers whose articles we’ve adapted. Kids (or anyone) ask questions and the researchers answer. I get to throw everything into short videos with lots of visuals to create a story that shows students what real scientists look like and what real research looks like. Here is a link to the YouTube channel with the interviews, and my favorite interview is below.

My favorite Interview so far!

I don’t think I realized it when I first started doing things for Science Journal For Kids, but their mission really allows me to use my passions in an interesting and impactful way. It combines my love of science, the challenge of reaching students in meaningful ways, and my enjoyment of writing and creating.

Stay tuned for a follow up post next week about the process of writing adaptations!


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