Friday, March 28, 2008

5289: Cool Teacher.

From The New York Times…

Harlem to Antarctica for Science, and Pupils


The pitch: Eight weeks in Antarctica. Groundbreaking research into the climate before the Ice Age. Glaciers. Volcanoes. Adorable penguins.

The details: Camping on the sea ice in unheated tents, in 20-below-zero temperatures. Blinding whiteouts. The bathroom? A toilet seat over a hole in the ice.

Stephen F. Pekar, a geology professor from Queens College, was selling Shakira Brown, a 29-year-old Harlem middle school science teacher, on his expedition.

Her response: I’m in.

Dr. Pekar had found just the person for his Antarctica team: a talented, intrepid African-American teacher to be a role model for minority science students.

“I’m tired of having a bunch of white people running around doing science,” said Dr. Pekar, who is white. “When it comes to Antarctica, it isn’t just the landscape that’s white.”

Dr. Pekar wants to get more American students, and particularly more minority students, excited about science. Many studies show teenagers across the United States lagging in math and science scores behind their peers in other industrialized countries.

“These kids don’t have the role models, or the environment, that shows them what the possibilities are,” he said. “I want Shakira Brown’s students to be able to live this experience through her. I want them to be thinking like scientists — like lovers of life.”

[Read the full story here.]

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