Necessity is the mother of invention
By Sharal Camisa, Executive Director
As teachers scramble to move courses online during the coronavirus pandemic, The Leakey Foundation understands the urgent need to offer free, high quality educational tools. A challenge of this magnitude requires creative solutions to meet the demand, and that is why the Foundation is focusing on projects that address the critical situation facing educators today. Researcher and professor at the University of Toronto Dr. Bence Viola explained, “We are all struggling with moving our courses online suddenly, and any help would be really welcome.”
The Leakey Foundation’s objective is to create lesson plans or activities for 42 episodes of our award-winning podcast Origin Stories. We know that many teachers already utilize our podcast as a valuable tool. Kimberly Cavanaugh, a professor of anthropology at USCB in South Carolina wrote, “I love the Origin Stories podcast and use several of the episodes in my classes, specifically, the Carol Ward episode and the two episodes about Jane Goodall. Podcasts engage students in different ways, and hearing the voices of scientists directly impacts their learning outcomes for the topic.”
Studies have shown that podcasts help students “bridge the conceptual distance between new and prior knowledge, better understand topics in lectures, and stimulate thinking more deeply about the lecture’s content and the possible applications of the subjects of the lecture” (Popova, Kirschner & Joiner, 2014).
One reviewer on Apple Podcasts wrote, “I just returned to school full-time as an archaeology major, and this show reignites my spark for archaeology when I am feeling overwhelmed with all the work. It’s also helping me drift into a specific field of archaeology.”
With a $100 sponsorship (per episode) from donors, the Foundation will contract with adjunct professors, graduate students, and Leakey Foundation grantees to create these lesson plans, offering our collaborators a modest source of income during uncertain financial times.
Origin Stories connects listeners to the larger world, and for this reason I am personally sponsoring two lesson plans. During this pandemic, when students are asked to shelter-in-place and social distance, these episodes can transport them to faraway places, connect them to colorful characters, and provide rich stories to inspire scientific curiosity.
I am proud that the Foundation will continue to honor their commitment to science education while acknowledging that the current teaching landscape is drastically different than it was only a few months ago. Please join me in sponsoring a lesson plan (or two)!