By Teachers, For Teachers
Kim Bent is the face of "Catch the Science Bug," whose local PBS program and education website make science an interactive experience for students and teachers alike.
Learn Kim's secrets to making science infectiously fun for you and your students in this exclusive TeachHUB interview.
Can you tell us a brief description of the “Catch the Science Bug” program and website?
Catch the Science Bug’s mission is to get children excited about and engaged in science! We teach different science enrichment programs in the schools, offer a free educational website, and produce a science series for Rhode Island PBS which will be available via video come September.
What has been your most exciting science adventure?
My most exciting science adventures are every time we get to produce another episode of Catch the Science Bug. I learn new information and meet a lot of really great scientists. I then have to take that information and present it in a way that everybody can understand. That is probably the most challenging part of the adventure and I love it!
I have worked with engineers that designed one of the chips for the Wii, a woman who although not a scientist by training, taught herself how to monitor the water quality of an urban lake, environmental professionals, and veterinarians. I saw first hand how water becomes clean for drink water and how the waste is removed from all the water that goes down our drains.
How is your program funded?
The Rhode Island PBS series is funded through grants. We have received funding from companies such as Analog Devices and Amgen whose interest is to promote science to children. We have also received funding from Amica Insurance and Best Buy Children’s Foundation. The traveling science programs are funded by school PTOs. The sale of our episodes on video will also help to further our science series and website content.
Are the current budget problems on the state and federal level threatening the program?
No, because this organization doesn’t rely on state or federal funding. However we have to constantly bring in funding to produce content for PBS and the web.
What experiment or scientific adventure has had the best, most enthused reaction from kids?
I would say it would be the demonstrations or hands-on experiments get the students the most excited. Activities range from being as complex as making a subsurface map or trying to derive a formula for SciBug Putty or testing materials to see if they absorb or repel water.
Who is your science hero?
I totally appreciate so many scientists and the work that they have done but when you ask for my favorite, it would have to be my husband, Gardner Bent, who is a hydrologist with the United States Geological Survey. Knowing him well has allowed me to experience his enthusiasm for his work, that being to that study the surface water and ground water resources in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I wanted to have a career I loved just as much and that is I how I was inspired to start Catch the Science Bug.
What episodes would you like to make next?
There a quite a few ideas on the drawing board, such as an episode on how baseball bats are tested at the Bat Lab at the University of Lowell, bird watching, how science learned in space helps create new inventions that better our lives on earth, trash, and the ecology of a barrier island. I could go on and on for like our theme songs says, “It’s a great big world to wander, full of mystery and surprise!”
What resources are available for teachers on the Science Bug website?
The sciencebug.org website has a varied of different resources, including:
Most of the content is found by opening the Science Files link off of the home page and choosing one of the nine science files. In an effort to let teachers know what we offer, there is also a Teacher’s Guide.
What tips would you give teachers to get students excited about science?
1. Try to make abstract concepts as visual as possible by using drawings, body movements, models, or analogies to make information real to the student.
2. Do as many hands-on experiments or demonstrations as possible. It never ceases to amaze me how much students enjoy even the simplest experiments such as testing materials to see if they sink or float.
3. If you have any flexibility with what science concepts you teach, try to pick ones that interest you. Your enthusiasm for the subject matter will be contagious.
4. And try encourage their curiosity by engaging them to find answers to their own science questions by having them search for more information or allowing them to do a “let’s see what happens if experiment”. Even it the experiment has little relevance, sometimes they just like seeing what would happen if….
Share you science teaching tips or suggest a subject for our next Ed Celeb interview in the comments section!