Each month, we feature one of our teachers on the blog and ask them to write a bit about their classroom experience with LPS. This month, we’re excited to share insight into Samantha Farmer’s 6th grade science classroom and learn why her students are so excited to have scientist pen pals!
Hello, my name is Samantha Farmer and I am a 6th grade science teacher at Career Academy in South Bend, Indiana. This is my first year with LPS and I am so thrilled to be part of this program. When letter day opens, part of me is jealous that I don’t get to open a letter from a pen pal. My background includes studying science education at Michigan State University. I originally intended to study pathology, but I couldn’t stop my desire to inspire other students to follow their own scientific dreams.
Career Academy school was founded to provide opportunities for students of all backgrounds to be ready for the workforce when they graduate high school. My school also provides career based pathways for students to have a greater understanding in the topics of welding, computer science and the medical field. My job as a middle school teacher is to get them familiar with all career pathways so that they are prepared for high school.
Before middle school, many of my students did not get nearly as much science education as they do now because we have an hour devoted to science every day. All of my students always express how much they enjoy that this year they can actually do “real” science even if it is not to the level of Bunsen burners yet. Having a science class has brought out creativity in students that was untapped before now. In my classroom students are currently studying the metric system. In the next weeks, we will be starting our unit on food chains and webs to discuss how energy moves in systems.
Before school started, I was at a science conference speaking with other teachers about how students don’t have an understanding of what it means to be a scientist in terms of what people work in the science field or how science is not just stuck in a laboratory setting. I reached out to my friends and connections through social media to get their story on why they became a scientist and what tasks they have for their job. Through this process I was able to connect with a past LPS scientist who referred me to this program. I jumped on the opportunity for my students to not only get to learn about the diverse backgrounds of science, but to have a connection and bond to a specific scientist.
I can brag a lot about being in this program, but the students are the best advocates for this program. Some of my most stoic students can’t help but have a massive grin on their face when they open their pen pal letter. Several of the students wanted to share how being part of LPS makes them feel:
“The pen pal program makes me feel very good because I have someone to talk to other than my trusted family. Another thing is that I like to get to know people and I like to tell people about my life, and all of the questions that my pen pal asks me. Another thing is that I like to know about her pets they are very cute!” -B.A.
“Well I have been really excited to be in the pen pal program and I have been really excited to open the letters and I like reading the letters because I get good vibes from them because every time I read the letters they show what you work with and how you work with the chemicals.” -J.G.
“The thing I like about having a pen pal is that you can relate to them like what they use to do when they were kids or ask what games they play what type of sports they play and what college they go to, you can just ask them what ever you want and sometimes they send you special gifts. We all love opening them there [sic] awesome thank you.” -N.H.
“I love when we open our letters , I always have a little burst of excitement! I really hope we can do a lot more pen pal letters!” -L.S.