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FAQs

Why are you doing this research?

Well, there are a lot of reasons why we are doing this research. One reason is that, as a nation, the US is working really hard to prepare students to go into science as a career and invent, discover, and push us to do things we never thought possible. Another reason is that we want to make sure that all kids feel like science is an option for them. Historically (over a really long period of time), women, minorities, people who speak languages other than English, people who grew up in poor neighborhoods, and students with special needs haven’t felt really welcome in science classrooms or laboratories. We want to figure out how to change that.

Why are you asking us to use our own DNA?

Even though we have had the opportunity to test our own DNA for about ten years, for most of that time it was either really expensive or controversial (which made people upset). We think that students will have a more positive experience learning about science if they are using their own genetic information. What do you think? Yea or no?

What if my parents say that it’s ok for me to do this research but I don’t want to do the research?

Great question! If you don’t want to participate in the research, you should not participate in the research. Even if your parents have agreed for you to participate. Nothing bad will happen to you and we will not be disappointed in you. The only thing is, you can’t participate in the camp if you don’t participate in the research.

Why can’t I participate in the camp if I’m not participating in the research?

Unfortunately, especially in a small camp like this one, it is really hard to keep the kids who don’t want to participate separate from the kids who do want to participate. Think about it: if we have to videotape what’s happening during a class session, and we need to make sure that half of the students are not recorded or observed, that can be really challenging! It’s not that we don’t want you there, we do. It’s just hard to keep track of who is and who isn’t participating.

What if I don’t want to talk about my height, or any other trait that I have?

That’s not a problem! We hope that you want to participate as much as possible, but we also understand that sometimes you might not want to talk about something. That’s totally fine. If someone asks you a question that you don’t want to answer, just say “I pass.” No one will ever push you or try to pressure you into sharing.

What if I don’t believe in evolution?

We aren’t here to be critical of, or challenge, anyone’s beliefs. Faith is an amazing thing – believing in things we can’t see, hear, touch. Science is different though. During this camp we will look, listen, touch, measure, collect and assess data that we will use to ask questions, make claims, support our claims with evidence, and use that evidence to explain our thinking.

What’s a FitBit?

A FitBit is an activity tracker that you wear on your wrist like a watch. It measures how many steps you take, how far you’ve traveled, how many calories you’ve burned, how many floors you’ve climbed, and your heart rate throughout the day.

Why are we using FitBits?

We are using FitBits for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it is really interesting to keep track of your activity. I wear one and I know that when I haven’t been very active, I am reminded to take a walk! Another reason is that the FitBit collects a lot of data that you can enter into an Excel table and track that data over time. Do you have a day that you are very active or really lazy? Is your heart rate off the charts in the morning/afternoon/evening? Can you make a prediction based on some of your data? How much data do you need in order to make a prediction? We’ll talk about all of that!

What if I’m adopted?

That’s great (my mom is adopted)! Your DNA is your DNA. The DNA test from 23andMe will tell you about the ancestry of your birth parents without identifying them. When you do genealogical research, you will research your adoptive parents. These are your parents. They pass on traditions and memories that you will carry with you forever. Your genealogical research will investigate where and when your parents and their parents and their parents were born, and other important stories as they choose to share with you. Exciting, right?!?

Why do you videotape what happens in class?

We videotape so that we can look at what you say and do closely, long after you have left camp. We are not trying to make a record of your behavior, so much as we are trying to capture how you talk about science, what your attitudes about science are, and if you like the way that the material is being taught. We will try to stay out of your way as much as possible.

Why do you want to talk to me a year after camp is over?

We are hoping that you might feel differently about your science classes because of your involvement in this camp. It might be hard to figure that out, but we want to try!

What if you ask me to do an interview and I’m not in the mood to talk that day?

If that happens, all you have to say is, “Can you check with me tomorrow?” And we will!

What if I’m curious about other information in my DNA?

If you want to investigate other aspects of your DNA that we don’t cover during the camp, you should talk to your parents about going through the information with them. After camp you should have some great ideas, and teaching is a great way to learn more!

Why do you keep the data for ten years? That’s a long time.

We keep the data for such a long time because sometimes it is helpful for researcher to be able to refer back to the original data when they are trying to make sense of how students are learning science. Sometimes that process can take a really long time. 

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