Teaching science isn’t just a science. It’s an art.
Everybody knows that science and science education are hot these days. The Oscars (and tons of ticket buying audience members) loved this year's nerdpics The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game. Whether it’s on TV (with PBS's Neil deGrasse Tyson or AMC's Breaking Bad) or on YouTube (with Bozeman Science or AsapSCIENCE), science is dope. Science sells-- and the audience is growing.
Like with a startup in any market, whether it be a taco truck or a new app, being hot can turn into success fast- especially in schools. Teachers who know how to gather, focus, and replicate this kind of interest can build a program that can last for years. It's entrepreneurship at its most fundamental.
This is no small feat in a culture always looking to save money by cutting programming in schools. I often read how difficult it is to launch a winning company.
Try launching a winning (and challenging) program in a school. Especially in the field of science.
BEING HOT CAN TURN INTO SUCCESS FAST IN SCHOOLS
TRY LAUNCHING A WINNING PROGRAM IN A SCHOOL
“Well, we started the year with some kids assuming leadership positions. But they didn’t stay in them,” Steve Peroni tells me. “The students who worked the hardest took over. Which is how it should be. I named a new captain for the national competition the day after we won regionals.”
Peroni, along with Sara LeMar, coaches North Shore High School’s Robotics Team, located on the coast of Long Island, NY. A couple of weeks ago, their team, RoboGym, won the county regional title. It's a first-time championship for a team in only its fourth year in operation.
“A lot of kids want to be involved in Robotics, especially now that the team is having some success. I tell them that nothing matters more than being here and doing the work,” says Peroni, sounding a lot like anybody running a hot new startup.
Peroni and LeMar have one of the toughest jobs in a high school: teaching Physics. Physics isn’t hard to teach because the work is empirically more difficult: it’s harder because it flies against a cultural tide of habits. We want things fast and we want it simple—physics is rarely these things. Physics requires time and repetition to comprehend and employ fundamentals, similar to learning to play the piano or to be a great swimmer. It's not for those who dabble.
Make no mistake: students hunger for these sorts of challenges. It’s just that our culture typically swings toward behavior with a faster payoff.
So, when science gets hot, teachers like Peroni and LeMar jump to capitalize- this time with an after school program. These teachers’ battle lines are the same as those held by any who run a company. It takes leadership, hard work, a propensity for risk, and the desire for big payoff. You have to know your market, develop your team, leverage resources, and struggle through challenges. Running a business is a science, sure. But, like teaching, it's also an art.
If student interest were measured in investment dollars, RoboGym would be a venture capitalist's dream. Watching Peroni, LeMar, and their team, first place medals around their necks, swaggering down the hallway, you don’t just see a program led by kickass teachers.
You see a company led by kickass entrepreneurs.
Focus Features, The Theory of Everything
IF STUDENT INTEREST WERE MEASURED in INVESTMENT DOLLARS, ROBOGYM WOULD BE