For Tara Dale and Laurie Jake, teaching kids about science can be challenging, but they admit that it can also be very rewarding.
The two middle school teachers spoke at the annual Arizona Science Teacher Association conference Friday to a room of fellow educators about their ideas and strategies to get students more involved when teaching science.
One of their most successful methods, they told the room of about 30 people, is invoking creativity.
Jake described several activities she uses in her classroom, some of which she partnered with a language arts teacher, including an essay told from the standpoint of being a honey bee.
"The point is for the kids to describe, from the viewpoint of a bee, how the pollination process works," she said. "The more creative I get with the kids, the more willing they are to write."
The two spoke about WRAC (writing and reading across the curriculum) and how it is essential in what they are trying to do in their classrooms. One of the meanings behind WRAC is that teachers collaborate with one another to help students learn better in all subjects through reading and writing.
"When I give them a writing assignment, I make sure I am using the same terminology as the language arts teacher," Dale said. "So I am constantly backing up what she is teaching to the kids."
An important aspect of her teaching, Dale said, is making sure the kids realize that all the different sciences are connected. One way she cements this is through a business letter to President Barack Obama. In the assignment, she has the kids write from the perspective of an alien from outer space about something they learned while studying ecology, for example, why do humans cage animals.
"The kids are seeing that connection between sciences and they are practicing writing a business letter," Dale said. "It's great to see what they come up with."
The 55th annual ASTA conference was at the Mesa Convention Center.