Eighth grade students learn by Skyping with experts, and they love questioning the experts.
In Amy Hanna’s class at Monticello Trails Middle School, the students recently Skyped with Clifford Thurber, professor of geophysics and volcanology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They knew to get the questions going.
“Have you ever worked at the New Madrid fault line?”
“What steps did you take to get where you are today in your job?”
“If you went to school and studied seismology, what different jobs could you get?”
“What’s the biggest earthquake you have observed or recorded?”
Both of Hanna’s earth science classes have interviewed a total of 24 science experts this semester, from local meteorologists to Harvard and Princeton professors. The Skype interviews were not set up by Hanna, but by her students.
“I always tell them to go big or go home, so they always start with the Dean of Volcanology at Harvard,” Hanna said. “There were only a couple of times we were pushed off to an assistant or something.”