Career of the Month: Paleoseismologist

Based on Interviews With Professionals Using Science in the Workplace

Paleoseismologists study geologic records to learn about earthquakes that happened thousands of years ago and then use that data to create models to forecast the probability of future earthquakes. 

Paleoseismologist Chris Goldfinger.

Paleoseismologist Chris Goldfinger.

“It is a wide-open field,” says Chris Goldfinger, a paleoseismologist at Oregon State

University in Corvallis, “because a lot of cities around the world are sitting on time bombs [active fault lines].”

Work overview.

My job is to assess hazards in fault areas in cities. Cascadia [the Pacific Northwest] is a prime example—no one had any idea there was a gigantic fault below Portland and Seattle, and now no one is sure what to do, because the cost of doing anything is in the billions or trillions of dollars. I look at geologic evidence such as offsets in the ground, landslides, or submarine landslide deposits. I take core samples from such active fault areas as Cascadia or San Andreas in the United States or others in Japan or Sumatra. This “ring of fire” around the Pacific Ocean has the easiest-to-find earthquake signals, which help us understand other fault areas.

I spend a month in the field at a time and collect about 100 core samples. For those deposits triggered by earthquakes, I try to figure out the timing, magnitude, and origin of the quakes. I use that data to build a time-and-space framework showing how a big fault behaved over long periods. The resulting map looks like a flipbook of a region with each frame showing a different earthquake.

To understand the nature of an earthquake threat, we provide a long history so people can know the probabilities and we can better determine our course of action. I use modeling software to estimate dates and to create earthquake-type movement in a representation of the seafloor. Other software simulates the effects of a tsunami moving to land. I model turbidity currents to see where sand will get deposited.

Goldfinger pulls a seafloor core sample from a storage rack in his lab. Photos by Oregon State University.

Training and helping graduate students is a big part of my job. My favorite part of the work is discovering something new and cool. It still amazes me how much you can learn about the big-picture things that happened to the Earth by poking around in dirt. The part I like least is politics. If I discover that a hazard affects people, it instantly becomes political, because developers are now saddled with an earthquake problem.

Career path.

In high school, I saw geology students packing shovels in a station wagon, heading to Death Valley. It looked like fun, and it was stunning to me that you could gain an understanding of what you’re standing on and where mountains came from, just by looking around and observing things. In college, I got a dual degree in geology and oceanography in the mid-1970s. Plate tectonics had just been discovered 10 years earlier, and all the big-picture concepts about the Earth had just come into focus.

After I graduated, I started building a sailboat with the aim of sailing around the world. Then I talked to a neighbor who was doing interesting work in geology, and I decided to go back to geology and combine that with my interests in boats and the sea. When I graduated with my PhD in geology from Oregon State University, the university hired me to work in the school of oceanography, which recently merged with the geology department.

I got interested in studying the past. But I realized that it’s also important to understand what is going on today. That’s why I began studying subduction zone earthquakes and tsunamis.

Knowledge, skills, and training needed.

Paleoseismology is multi-disciplinary and requires a good background in geology and marine geology. The latter is not a subset of regular geology; the principles are very different. For the marine work, it’s good to know about remote sensing, weather, and seamanship, and it’s handy to know how to build instruments and repair things. Because you go out on a big expensive ship with 50 to 70 people at a time, it requires a lot of teamwork and logistics.

Advice for students.

Get a broad grounding in all the necessary subjects. Gain some computer skills also.

Bonus Points
Goldfinger’s education:
BS in geology and oceanography from Humboldt State University; PhD in geology from Oregon State University

On the web:
http://activetectonics.coas.oregonstate.edu/
Related occupations:
Seismologist, structural geologist, paleoclimatologist

Editor’s Note

This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of The Science Teacher journal from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Get Involved With NSTA!

Join NSTA today and receive The Science Teacher, the peer-reviewed journal just for high school teachers; to write for the journal, see our Author Guidelines and Call for Papers; connect on the high school level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers at future NSTA conferences.


The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2016 Area Conferences

2017 National Conference

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Right to the Source: Sketching the Double Helix

Exploring Science and History With the Library of Congress.

In 1869, 25-year-old Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher first identified and isolated deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), calling it nuclein. Decades later, scientists identified the DNA molecule’s role in determining genetic inheritance. But not until 1953 was DNA’s distinctive double-helix structure discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick. Working at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University, they used tools as simple as pencil sketches and handmade physical models to form their ideas.

In his 1988 book, What Mad Pursuit, Crick explained: “Our first attempt at a model was a fiasco.” But later models and sketches,

The double-helix sketch.

The double-helix sketch.

including the one shown here, helped them visualize possibilities and test solutions, which led to demonstrations, illustrations, and diagrams through which they shared their findings with others.

One such diagram appeared in a 1953 article in Nature in which the two young scientists (Watson, 23, and Crick, 35) announced: “We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of [DNA]. This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.”

Stating that their model was “radically different” from those proposed by other scientists, Watson and Crick described DNA’s structure as a double helix with the bases pointing in and forming pairs of adenine (A) with thymine (T), and cytosine (C) with guanine (G). The small, “purely diagrammatic” figure that they included (drawn by Crick’s wife, Odile, and similar to the pencil sketch), showed how the components of DNA fit together.

They acknowledged the need for more experimental data and asserted, “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.”

They were right. Knowing the structure of DNA is, in fact, the key to understanding how genetic information is copied and passed along to future generations.

About the Source
The double-helix sketch shown above is available online at the World Digital Library (WDL), a project of the U.S. Library of Congress with support from the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations around the world. The WDL makes available online significant primary materials from all countries and cultures. The original sketch is part of the Francis Crick papers housed at the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine in London. The library’s online research resource entitled “Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics” features the digitized papers of 22 scientists and organizations. Most of Crick’s personal papers are housed at the University of California–San Diego. The complete James Watson Papers are housed at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives in New York.

Related Student Explorations

  • Scientific models
  • Peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • X-ray crystallography
  • Rosalind Franklin, Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, Jerry Donohue (other scientists involved with DNA research)

Lee Ann Potter is the director of Educational Outreach at the Library of Congress.

Editor’s Note

This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of The Science Teacher journal from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

Get Involved With NSTA!

Join NSTA today and receive The Science Teacher, the peer-reviewed journal just for high school teachers; to write for the journal, see our Author Guidelines and Call for Papers; connect on the high school level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers at future NSTA conferences.


The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2016 Area Conferences

2017 National Conference

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Prepping an empty classroom

I just took a fifth-grade position, and the principal showed me the classroom I’ll have. It’s a brand-new building, and there’s nothing in the classroom—just the student tables, bare bulletin boards, a few empty bookshelves, and a teacher desk. When I was student teaching, the classrooms had lots of interesting bulletin boards and centers, but this is really barren. What can I do in a short time and with a small budget? —A., California

New teachers should realize the classroom displays and bulletin boards in the classrooms of veteran teachers are the result of many years of experience and collecting. But starting with a blank space can be good—you won’t have to go through someone else’s “stuff.”

Imagine how you want the room to look and feel. Remember that less is more and avoid covering every available space and filling every nook and cranny. Students should be able to focus on their work, and some classrooms are so cluttered it’s distracting.

I can’t speak for the other subjects you’ll teach, but for science there are a few quick things you can do to make the classroom attractive and conducive to learning:

  • Use some shelf space for a classroom library with books on a variety of nonfiction topics and reading levels. Start with books from the school library and supplement with books from yard sales or children’s book sales during the year.
  • Reserve and label a place in the room as a “science center” with materials for activities related to what students are currently learning. This science interest center could also have objects or materials for students to explore (e.g., shell collections, animal bones, rock samples, weather maps, simple machines). Students may enjoy adding to your collection throughout the year. Change the materials with each unit of study. Any science-specific safety equipment (such as goggles or aprons) could also be stored here.
  • Add a few plants (live or artificial) to the room.
  • Find out what technology will be available in the classroom—laptops, tablets, etc. You’ll need a place to store these, close to outlets where they can be recharged.
  • Set up a private study center for students doing make-up work and independent study or who need fewer distractions. You’ll probably want to have other areas for small group instruction and project work.
  • Invest in some plastic tubs to organize materials and keep them out of the way.
  • Although it’s not part of the décor, find out what safety equipment and science materials will eventually be in the classroom.

In terms of bulletin boards… Continue reading …

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folder icon  Safety

Starting the New School Year: Seven Safer Science Strategies

Before starting the new school year, in terms of safety, a little planning can go a long way. Science teachers, supervisors, and administrators should check out the Safer Seven checklist below for strategies that improve laboratory safety.

  1. Know the rules and practices. No matter where you teach, legal safety standards must be followed. Before working in the laboratory, research, review, adopt, and enforce the legal safety standards, which may include building codes, fire codes, environmental codes, and occupational codes.

     

    Also, pay attention to better professional practices. Organizations such as NSTA and the National Science Education Leadership Association have position papers and professional practices (see Resources), which are standards developed by professional organizations (e.g., keep lab doors locked when not in use). It is important to follow legal standards and better professional practices to ensure the safety of students and to protect science teachers from legal entanglements, including negligence charges.

  2. Rules of the home base. The employer, with the help of science teachers, needs to have a written safety plan with standard operating laboratory procedures, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA requires a written safety plan, called the Chemical Hygiene Plan, and one or more Chemical Hygiene Officers to make sure the plan is applied (see Resources).

    Supervision and progressive discipline for students and employees help secure and maintain a safer working environment. Moreover, all employees working in science laboratories should take safety training based on standard operating procedures, use of engineering controls, and personal protective equipment.

  3. Safety committee.  Every school should have a safety committee, with representation from the employer, employees, and the science department. The safety committee should be trained to conduct, or have outside safety consultants perform, periodic safety inspections of science laboratories, including engineering controls, standard operating procedures, personal protective equipment, and storage facilities.

  4. Student safety training. Students need to have safety training on biological, chemical, and physical hazards, while also going through laboratory safety procedures and assessments for understanding safety, and reviewing a safety acknowledgement form (see Resources). The acknowledgement form should be signed by the student and parent or guardian. Safety training should be an ongoing activity throughout the school year.

  5. Emergency response. The safety plan must include emergency procedures: first aid, evacuation routes, spill control, etc. Teachers should make sure they have a written record in their lesson plans of safety precautions taken and safety training for each hands-on activity.

  6. Appropriate use of hazardous materials. Microscale, or green chemistry, helps secure a safer working environment. Store hazardous chemicals in labeled containers in secured areas. Before purchasing the chemicals, read Safety Data Sheets to know how to safely use, store, and dispose of them. These steps are all part of a comprehensive chemical management plan.

  7. The history. Keep a paper trail of accidents in the form of inspection reports, accident reports, and signed safety acknowledgement forms. The paper trail helps keep the science teacher out of legal trouble. Provide written rationales for safety equipment in budget requests and keep those as records.

Final thoughts

Clearly, science teachers need to create a safer working and learning environment for students and themselves. Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, or questions in the Comment section.

Submit questions regarding safety in K–12 to Ken Roy at safesci@sbcglobal.net. Follow him on Twitter: @drroysafersci.

Resources

Better professional practices—www.nsta.org/about/positions, www.nsta.org/safety, www.nsela.org/safe-science-series

Chemical Hygiene Plan—www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=10106&p_table=STANDARDS

Safety Acknowledgment Form—www.nsta.org/docs/SafetyInTheScienceClassroomLabAndField.pdf

NSTA resources and safety issue papers

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Could a Species Like Bigfoot Have Evolved? 17 Mysteries Revealed at #STEMforum Last Week

2016 STEM Forum and Expo
Denver, Colorado, July 27–29
As Seen on Twitter


How do you make a banana piano?


Is it true that STEM lessons can be found anywhere?


Could a species like Bigfoot have evolved?


Where do Science Superheroes go to meet their peers?

Continue reading …

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Changing schools

I’m moving to a different state to take a teaching position. I don’t know anyone there, so where can I look for guidance on state standards and other resources that would be helpful in my new job? —W., Pennsylvania

Congratulations on finding a job! I hope you will have a mentor and meet other colleagues who will help you adjust to a new school in a new state. In the meantime, I suggest the following:

  • Be sure to check out your new state’s Department of Education website for links to standards, resources, and professional certification requirements.
  • Familiarize yourself with your new school district’s science curriculum guide and the school handbook, and ask about the textbook or electronic resources used in the course and the type of technology available in your school. Browse the websites for your new school and the community.
  • To connect directly with others in your new state, subscribe to the relevant NSTA email list and post your state-specific questions or requests for information. There are options by subject areas (chemistry, physics, biology, Earth science, general science), grade level teaching (e.g., elementary, middle, early childhood) or other topics such as Next Generation Science Standards, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and pedagogy. In my experience, our colleagues respond with relevant and helpful advice in a timely manner. As an NSTA member, you can subscribe to as many lists as you want through the NSTA website. 
  • Post questions or requests to NSTA’s Discussion Forums. You can also search previous posts.  
  • Connect with (and join) the NSTA state chapter or associated group.  These local organizations sponsor conferences and other events, post links to professional development opportunities, provide a calendar of events, and offer other ways to connect with science teachers, including social media.
  • Check out local science centers, parks, or museums in your new community for what they have to offer. By becoming a member you can connect with other teachers at events, as well as add to a network of community resources. For example, a member of a park that I belong to is a herpetologist and museum curator who is always eager to share his knowledge and expertise.
  • When you get to your new community, visit the nearest public library to see what materials and resources are available to you and your students.
  • Take a look at what local colleges or universities have to offer, in terms of outreach projects with schools, graduate courses, lecture series, or guest speakers.

Many of these resources can be explored online. If possible, reserve some time before the first day to give yourself onsite opportunities to prepare yourself and your classroom/lab (and have a little breathing room before the first day). During this time, your district may offer teacher workshops. Take advantage of these to meet other teachers and become familiar with the culture of your new school.

 

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jjlook/7152722/sizes/s/in/photostream/

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The Anatomy of the STEM Pipeline: Dissecting Misconceptions at the 2016 #STEMforum

LLCoolProfQuote2016July30V2

Anatomy: The subject tend to make teachers freeze up, or make the obligatory “gross” puns. But it’s a great topic for STEM, and a career field more students need to know about.

The NSTA staff had a chance to sit down at the 2016 STEM Forum and Expo with Shawn Boynes (SB), Executive Director of the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), and Lisa Lee (LL), Associate Professor  at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, to learn a little more.

Q. What does an anatomy career look like?

A. Anatomy is the core competency for any career in health care. But it’s not just gross anatomy—there are so many branches like histology, neurology, embryology. Career pathways could take students into pathology labs, the field as an anthropologist, a classroom as a biology teacher, the coroner’s office. —LL

Q. What could a K-12 teacher do to encourage more students to go into anatomy?

A. We have members in almost every medical and dental school in the United States, and they work on outreach. Teachers could contact us to find an anatomist who could set up a demonstration or program for them. Going through AAA makes it much easier to develop this type of relationship; you don’t want to just call a med school and ask the receptionist to send a skeleton to your school! —SB

Q. That sounds great for older students, but what about teachers of really young children? Many teachers of that age group don’t have a science background.

A. It doesn’t have to be intimidating. That’s one of our goals is to dispel that notion. A preschool teacher could start with simply getting students familiar with their own bodies. Ask questions like: What are these hard things in here? What’s the squishy part in the middle? What’s this leathery stuff on the outside? And read books about the body with them! —LL

Q. Dissection. It’s a difficult subject for some.

A. There are some stand-ins for biological specimens, but you certainly can’t be a doctor without having dissected an actual human body. But there are some good companies out there, making virtual dissection software, specimens in clay, and so forth. For K-12 students, these alternatives allow students to become familiar with anatomy. —SB

A. At med schools, there is a tremendous respect for cadavers. When we have finished learning from each one, we hold a memorial service and all students and teachers who have been honored to work with it take part, and the family members are invited. The families always come, and it’s very moving. —LL

Q. What do you hope to get out of the STEM Forum and Expo?

A. We are here to learn. We’re in an exploratory phase, for AAA, looking for ways we can reach out to K-12 STEM educators. To learn how we can get student into the anatomy career pipeline earlier, make anatomy more accessible as a subject they can teach. —SB

Q. What else should STEM teachers know about your association?

A. We want to encourage more students to get into the anatomy profession, and we have great programs for preservice anatomy students. Find them all here: Student, Postdoc and Young Faculty Competition Award Winners. We have a strong commitment to bringing younger members into the profession, and in fact we have two Board of Director positions specifically for student members so that they can bring new ideas and help us address their particular challenges. Learn more about us at http://www.anatomy.org/. —SB

Q. Any skeletons in your closets?

A. Yes! I’m a collector, and they come in really handy at Halloween. —LL


The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2016 Area Conferences

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Health Wise: Countering Poverty’s Effects on Learning

text + cover of the current issue of TST

Poverty is a student health problem, according to the 64,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP; 2016a).

Poverty affects learning.

The AAP announced earlier this year that at all checkups, pediatricians should ask parents and guardians: “Do you have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month?” This question helps identify the one in five U.S. children who are living in poverty, or an income level at or below $24,230 for a family of four, according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data (2016). The number of poor children younger than 18 rises to 43%, or 31.5 million, when families designated as “poor,” “near poor,” and “low-income” are included in census data, according to the AAP (2016a).

“Research shows that living in deep and persistent poverty can cause severe, lifelong health problems, including … poor language development, higher rates of asthma, and obesity. A growing body of research links child poverty with toxic stress that can alter gene expression and brain function and contributes to chronic cardiovascular, immune, and psychiatric disorders, as well as behavioral difficulties” (AAP 2016a).

“While urban and rural areas continue to have high rates of poverty, the suburbs have experienced the largest and fastest increases in poverty since the 2008 recession,” the AAP says. “Poverty is everywhere. It affects children of all backgrounds and in all communities,” says AAP president Benard P. Dreyer (AAP 2016a). Continue reading …

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Manipulating Contents & Containers, and representing 3-D objects in block play

It is so fascinating how obvious it is that children have different prior experiences, different developmental ages, and different interests when we teachers present them with a set of materials and don’t ask them to use them in a particular way! This post is a reflection on how two different sets of objects are used by preschool children ages 3-5 years. The experiences I describe are just the beginning of explorations into the relationship between “contents” and “containers,” and the way 2-D materials can represent 3-D structures.

Contents and containers

Child collecting ball "contents" into a net "container."I had the pleasure of working with two classrooms on building with a variety of materials, a class of young-to-old three-year-olds and a mixed age classroom of just-four-year-olds to older five-year-olds. We teachers provided a set of “contents and containers” to both classes, inspired by presentations by Dr. Rosemary Geiken and Dr. Jill Uhlenberg (Geiken 2009).

The contents we used were balls of different sizes, film canisters, cotton balls, and lids from various jars and bottles. The containers were made-for-food-storage plastic tubs, recyclable oatmeal/coffee canisters and cans, plastic netting from fruit, plastic cups, and sections of drainage tubes. I chose these objects because they were easy to access and could fit together in more than one way. Our purpose was to observe the children to understand more about what interests them and their approach to new materials.

Child struggles to separate two containers.In both classrooms there was a variety of approaches: some children collected as many of the “contents” as they were able to, many explored the way the contents fit into the various containers and how the containers could open and close, some tried making a system to move the contents into and between the containers, and others used the objects to make sounds or as part of imaginative play. They encountered problems to struggle with and sometimes solve: there wasn’t enough room in the container for all the collected contents, an object got stuck inside a container, two containers got stuck together, and there weren’t enough of the coveted objects to satisfy all who wanted them.

Children use container and balls as pretend muffins.

Children began putting the containers together to make systems.

We could see which children needed support to persist, and were able to use open-ended prompts (statements from teachers) to support children in trying alternative solutions. Over the weeks of using the materials the children began using them with other classroom materials, finding new purposes for both contents and containers, and new problems to solve. Beginning with a set of materials that could be used in many ways allowed us to really see what developed, because we didn’t have an expectation of how the children should use them. The play that sprang forth reminded me of the play that happens in workshops by Dr. Walter Drew (see video examples) and his work with co-authors Dr. Marcia Nell and Dr. Baji Rankin.

Using 2-D shapes to represent 3-D structures

When we do ask children to use materials in a particular way, their different prior experiences, different developmental ages, and different interests also become apparent. We can use this information to guide our lesson planning and discussions about children’s work.

A teacher shared her previous experience of making the 3-D unit block shape cross-sections in the medium of 2-D art foam with magnetic backing to be used on a radiator or white board. We made a set based on the blocks available in the classrooms and asked children to build with a small set of blocks and then represent their structure using the 2-D art foam blocks. We hope that children will later use the foam blocks to represent the 3-D structures they want to save and reflect on after the 3-D blocks are put away.

This was a new material for most of the children so we expected them to be mostly interested in using the art foam block shapes. A few children in both age groups created small wooden unit block shapes and then used the 2-D art foam shapes to represent the structure.

A 5-block structure.

Child using 2-D art foam shapes to represent a 5-block structure.They looked back and forth between their unit block structure and their art foam block representation on the wall. A child who was trying to make a symmetrical structure with a triangle block on either side of a central rectangular block was frustrated by the lack of triangle blocks that faced both ways. It quickly became apparent that I had only made “right-handed” triangle blocks, sticking the magnetic backing to the triangles when they were all facing the same way! Luckily I had additional material and could correct this omission. But the situation allowed us to assess that the child was very aware of the direction of her triangle block.

Child puts a long line of 2-D foam block shapes together into a "train."Some children began building a long “train” of the 2-D art foam blocks and others wanted to see how many of the art foam blocks it took to cover a set of unit blocks lying on the floor. The idea of representing a 3-D block structure may become important another day if they want to save a particular structure to use the following day but space requirements don’t allow structures to stay up during nap time. A 2-D representation can help children remember what blocks they used so they can recreate the structure and perhaps redesign it. 

 

It will be interesting to see if using the 2-D foam block shapes has any influence on whether children choose to draw their 3-D wooden block structures on paper, and how easy it is for them to document and represent their structures in yet another medium.


Geiken, R., Uhlenberg, J., Uhlenberg, D, & York, C. (November 2009). Toddlers engaged in inquiry and problem solving: Promoting learning in science and math with spheres and cylinders. National Association for the Education of Young Children National Conference, Washington, DC Conference session

Drew, Walter F. and Baji Rankin. 2004. Promoting Creativity for Life Using Open-Ended Materials. Young Children July 2004

Nell, Marcia L., and Walter F. Drew, With Deborah E. Bush. 2013. From Play to Practice: Connecting Teachers’ Play to Children’s Learning. NAEYC 

Posted in Early Years | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

Wooden unit blocks and representing their use in early childhood education

Working with and reading about the work of other educators is inspiring. While observing or mentoring in different programs I am given an education and opportunity to reflect on my own practice.

The teachers in the Clarendon Child Care Center had been closely observing children’s block play and discussing it. The director introduced the Thinking Lens tool from Margie Carter and Deb Curtis’s The Visionary Director: A Handbook for Dreaming, Organizing, and Improvising in Your Center (Redleaf, 2009), and shared resources on fostering reflection and analysis. (See additional resources in TYC, and a single page resource from the ChildCareExchange.) The staff had also been reading about the use of blocks in The Block Book edited by Elisabeth S. Hirsch (NAEYC 1996) and about the early invention of wooden unit blocks and work on children’s play by Caroline Pratt. 

(You can learn more about Pratt’s work in the article, “Learning From Caroline Pratt” by Petra Munro of Hendry Louisiana State University, discussing Caroline Pratt’s life and work through a review of Mary Hauser’s Learning from Children: The Life and Legacy of Caroline Pratt in the Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum, Volume 4 February 2008.)

A "web" of block play's role in early childhood education.

 

The staff synthesized their discussion and created a poster, based on the example by Charlotte Brody in The Block Book, to share with families: filling in their goals for using blocks and what children get out of block play, guided by the understanding they gained from reading Hirsch’s and Pratt’s work. Their work displayed in the poster was a powerful reminder to me to take children’s block play seriously while maintaining the joyful experience.

Some of my “visits” to other programs are through the shared internet. Mr. Peter of Mr. Noah’s Nursery School writes about his class’ experience of block play in “The Bliss of Blocks” on the blog, Gopher Ark – the art of early education.

What are your “ah ha!” moments of observing and fostering block play in your early childhood program?

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