IEEP Will Help Children Learning

Chris Rohret

Iowa City Press-Citizen

September 15, 2004, p. 13A

Children are naturally curious. At a very young age they ask questions to help them understand the world around them. They use their senses as they explore their surroundings to help them learn how things work. Children are developing scientific thinking as they ask questions, interact with their environment and analyze information to make decisions.

Learning in our world takes on many forms. Scientists studying the importance of genetic diversity to the survival of individual species also ask questions and collect data. Children who want to know how birds fly need opportunities to observe, question and engage in activities to build new understandings of flight and motion. Observing and collecting data about the skeletal structure of hawks in the prairie or toucans in the rain forest help children understand how shape affects flight and speed. Designing air-powered vehicles and aerodynamic flying objects offer perfect opportunities to study Newton's laws of motion. Forming hypotheses about how weight affects the flight performance of a paper airplane helps children understand the importance of controlling variables. Concepts of flight and motion come to life as children engage in meaningful activities emerging from their questions.

As visitors are immersed in the ecosystems of the rain forest, prairie and wetlands at the Iowa Environmental/Education Project ("IEEP offers area great opporhuiity," Aug. 20), they, too, will ask questions and seek answers. The rich, diverse environments will be the framework within which people construct their own learning about topics that are relevant and meaningful. Skilled teachers and scientists will help people learn using researchbased teaching strategies. Advanced computer technologies will help visitors of all ages design personalized experiences to answer their questions and learn more about the world around them.

IEEP will continue the mission of public education to make science accessible to all citizens and support lifelong learning. IEEP will be a model of scientific inquiry, a powerful way of teaching and learning that captures the enthusiasm and curiosity of learners of all ages.

Chris Rohret
Iowa City