Nuestra ciencia is our science microbiology lessons for all

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S4-15  Tue Jan 5 16:30 – 16:45  Nuestra ciencia is our science: microbiology lessons for all Yep, A*; Nation, JM; California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo; California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

Misconceptions plague microbiology education, and most students reach college with deep-seated yet inaccurate ideas about the microbial world. Examples of misconceptions include how vaccines and antibiotics work, how viruses and bacteria cause disease, and the role of microbes in the human body and the environment. Our program tackles these misconceptions at both the elementary and college level, by tasking undergraduates with developing microbiology lessons for K-6 learners. The microbiology content is taught in Spanish at two-way immersion elementary schools, addressing another misconception: that English proficiency is a prerequisite for STEM learning. Spanish-speaking households represent 26.8% of California’s population but English learners (ELs) are severely underrepresented in college and in STEM fields. ELs face discrimination and significant achievement gaps even though current understanding of the way language and science competency develop suggests that children draw on their first-language proficiency as an asset for STEM learning. Our program addresses both problems, as we work with interdisciplinary groups of undergraduates (Microbiology, Biology, Liberal Studies, and Spanish) to develop engaging experiments that illustrate microbiology concepts, which are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and conducted in Spanish. Lessons have accompanying resources in Spanish and English for teachers and students, including background information, handouts, and assessment tools. Besides correcting misconceptions and introducing children to role models in STEM fields, this project provides a sense of belonging and a deeper connection to their major for EL and heritage Spanish speaking undergraduates. For this paper, we present our program design and lessons learned from the first set of experiments piloted in Winter 2020.

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