Author Archives: Mary Bigelow

Mary Bigelow

Have a question for Ms. Mentor? E-mail her: msmentor@nsta.org.

Science classroom libraries






I am a new elementary librarian, and I want to prioritize science nonfiction. I’m looking for suggestions to help teachers who often do not have time to collect books from the library. I also need ideas for books to purchase.  — J., New York I spoke with a librarian colleague, who did what you are […]

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Lab debriefing options






My ninth grade students enjoy doing labs. But afterward, most do not participate in the debriefing. How can I improve this? —A., Washington You could try an alternative to teacher-led discussions. Here’s one that worked with my students. Instead of you asking questions, assign one team of students to present their results to the class […]

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Student recycling project






I sponsor an after-school science club for upper elementary students. They’d like to expand the recycling program at the school. I’m looking for suggestions on what they can do. – C., Pennsylvania It may help to add a context to your students’ efforts. In a “garbology” lesson, the teacher collects the classroom trash for a […]

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Feedback from participants






Recently, I did a hands-on workshop for other teachers on science apps and probes. I thought it went really well, and no one had any questions at the end of the session. But now, I’m getting lots of messages and phone calls for help. My colleague said that I must not have done a good […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s December K-12 journals






Elementary and middle school teachers have a real gold mine this month – both journals have the theme of Energy. Food for thought at any grade level–Commentary: Proactive Leadership in The Science Teacher describes what leadership should look like for teachers, departments, and administrators. The Science Teacher — Bringing Research Into the Classroom This issue […]

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Busy vs. Engaged






After a recent observation, my supervisor commented that the students did not seem engaged in the activity. I was surprised because the students were busy working. How can you tell if students are really “engaged”? —P., Oklahoma Ask your supervisor what he or she saw (or did not see). What indicators would have determined “engagement” […]

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Statistics for younger students






Our math department wants students in all subjects and grade levels to do more with statistics and graphing. I do graphing with my students in elementary science, but are younger students ready for statistics? —G., Pennsylvania The science and engineering practices in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) include several that incorporate statistics and graphing: […]

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Teacher as scientist






I have a degree in biology and teach high school. Although I love teaching at this level, I miss doing real scientific work myself. Any suggestions on how I can still stay engaged and current in science? —T., Illinois Although we teach a variety of topics, teachers have areas of special interests. And as we […]

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Suggestions for a lab update






I have a chance to contribute to the design of the science classrooms in a middle school. What should be on a “must-have” list? —S., Connecticut I would strongly recommend using the NSTA Guide to Planning School Science Facilities. This publication has a chapter on safety guidelines (including material storage), sample floorplans, Americans with Disabilities […]

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Ideas and inspiration from NSTA’s November K-12 journals






Educators at all levels  will find ideas on helping students with Meeting the Challenges of Communicating Science in his month’s Science and Children. Many of the strategies can be adapted for other levels. Science and Children – The Speaking, Reading, and Writing Connection to Science This issue is a must-read for teachers of all levels. […]

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