Urban Ecology



Becoming Excellent Science Teachers

A Service Learner's Perspective on the Urban Ecology Center

By Anna Concannon

Have you ever dreaded Science class because your teacher failed to make learning fun, relevant, or engaging? Many students have such negative attitudes about Science, and this is unfortunate because science is a great subject for kids to explore unlimited phenomena around them.

In the Education course Teaching Elementary Science, pre-service teachers learn how to make science instruction engaging for students. This class requires Service Learning either at the Discovery World Museum or the Urban Ecology Center. Katie McGlade, a junior majoring in Elementary/Middle Education and Spanish, did her Service Learning at the Urban Ecology Center: a three-branch, Milwaukee-based organization which aims to foster ecological understanding as inspiration for change in Milwaukee neighborhoods, according to the center’s mission statement.

Katie’s role as a volunteer at the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) is to assist educational instructors during school field trips. She knows her time and effort there, albeit brief, makes an impact on the center because they need volunteers to help them function since it runs numerous programs impacting so many people. Children who attend the programs gain valuable experiences doing inquiry-based learning about topics they encounter in everyday life, such as exploring the Milwaukee River, drinking water quality, rocks, wildlife, and the weather.

Katie enthusiastically enjoys her time there, especially because she gets to experience hands-on opportunities to teach science topics. Service Learning at the UEC is valuable as a pre-service teacher because it allows her to “observe teachers and actually work with students outside the classroom, as opposed to learning about teaching in my Education classes,” according to Katie. She also enjoys it because her current and past Service Learning experiences with young children have made in impact on her vocation by helping her realize she wants to work in a preschool class someday. “I was able to really connect with them at that age,” she says.

Katie recommends Service Learning because it is “a great opportunity for students to be immersed in the Milwaukee community and deviate from the norm of our everyday lives while making an impact.”

Through this transformative learning experience, supplemented by the academic content in her Teaching Elementary Science course, Katie and her classmates learn about the many science-related programs and resources available in Milwaukee as well as instructional strategies which they can incorporate into future science instruction. By using these important tools, they can become excellent science teachers and foster children’s enthusiasm about the under-appreciated subject of science.


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Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

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