Building Team Science

Team building is something that any sports team undertakes; business teams participate in; as well as other professional areas focus on.  The purpose of team building is to bring individuals together to develop interactions that enhance or increase the effectiveness of the team. So yes – it is important to develop and build skills in students that will help them be successful in Team Science situations.

The recently released report Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science focuses on how the pursuit of scientific endeavors has become “team science.”   According to the report, team science is defined as “scientific collaboration, i.e., research conducted by more than one individual in an interdependent fashion, including research conducted by small teams and larger groups.” The reason for this team science approach is that scientific research is increasingly conducted by small teams and larger groups rather than individual investigators. However there are some drawbacks to this approach as well which include the challenges of collaboration which can slow these teams’ progress in achieving their scientific goals. How well a team works together is viewed as “team effectiveness (also referred to as team performance) [which is] [a] team’s capacity to achieve its goals and objectives. This capacity to achieve goals and objectives leads to improved outcomes for the team members (e.g., team member satisfaction and willingness to remain together), as well as outcomes produced or influenced by the team. In a science team or larger group, the outcomes include new research findings or methods and may also include translational applications of the research.”

In considering the these definitions, the idea of creating an environment that generates communication, collaboration, promotes creativity and innovation, as well as using critical thinking and problem solving skills is exactly what the college and career ready reports have been requesting for many years. In a second report titled Preparing 21st Century Students for A Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the Four Cs there is a discussion of the importance for helping students become skilled in these 21st century skills that are needed in all aspects of our global world.

While solid science instruction is necessary to build student’s understanding of science, there is still a need to develop these other skills which often is not part of the actual curriculum. Therefore, a disclaimer – I am not sure where these activities would fit into your curriculum as they do not meet a national or state standard most likely. Furthermore, time is short and working together is something that one would think most students should learn early on in life. With that stated, the following are a few activities that have been used in various professional development activities attended that have found their way into classroom activities throughout the years.

Colored Broken Squares – A non-verbal problem solving activity that requires collaboration and cooperation as well as attention to detail.

Write It Do It – An older activity from the Science Olympiad that asks students to practice their writing skills in describing a structure and then switch with a partner who must follow the directions.

Tower of Cups – A problem solving activity that requires critical thinking and communication among team members.

Yes/No Conundrums – Requires students to ask yes/no questions to solve a riddle that is presented. Sometimes these are referred to by a commercial name as Stories with Holes.

These are but a few of the strategies that have found their way into my classroom regardless of the level over the years. Since helping students master the four Cs places them in a better position for the future, it is important to find the time to allow them time to develop communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving and creativity and innovation. What activities or approaches can you add to the list as we collaborate together?

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One Comment

  1. Daniel
    Posted February 20, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Great ideas for team building activities. Team building can improve moral in a workforce so much. And the Indoor team building activities ideas are great. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

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