GCC 3026 -- Stepping into the Gap

PANDEMIC PIVOT: while everything below is true in a typical year, this is not a typical year. This year, instead of leading an after-school science program, students in GCC 3026 will be asked to participate in and take a leadership role in an exciting new pandemic-responsive tutoring and mentoring program: Classroom Partners. Classroom discussions will be largely the same (naming and taming barriers to participation for minoritized students), but fieldwork will be different -- joining Google Meets with teachers and students, building a relationship with one or two focus students, reaching out to the students' families to learn what support they need to get through the school year, and leading peer reflection circles back "on campus".

For the foreseeable future, all class activities will be online -- Zoom for U of M classes, and Google Meet for Murray classes.

Each year, we head out to Murray Middle School to partner with the science department in helping students learn how to use the Science Fair as a chance to explore their own interests. This project is part of the Grand Challenges Curriculum.

Read a student's description of the class here: Representation and Resources for Science Fair

University students register for 3 credits of GCC 3026 and join a team that's wrestling with the following questions:

What can we do to change the fact that access to education depends on race and wealth?

September is spent in the classroom, learning about the opportunity gap and what's being done to close it.

Students studying opportunity gap in GCC 3026

What can we do to get all students excited about science?

October is spent out in the real world, getting to know students at Murray Middle School and finding out what makes them excited about their world. We're working to destroy limited perceptions of test tubes and lab coats and replace those with experiences that feel authentic and relevant.

University and Murray students meeting during demos

What can we do to support students' first attempts at independent inquiry?

November and December are spent working 1:1 or in small groups with students as they design and execute experiments that answer their own questions. It takes a lot of creativity to help them see how they can own the process, but it is so rewarding when they do!

Students looking at science fair displays together