By Heather Coyne
SOUTH BEND — For many people, there is a misunderstanding about the relationship between faith and science. The Church provides guidance on how to appreciate the harmony between them, bringing faith and science into dialogue. This discourse can be witnessed every day in the science classrooms of this diocese.
“What initially drew me is the study of creation through the lens of science,” said Nicole Dainty, middle school science teacher at Christ the King School in South Bend. “It has always been natural for me to experience God through doing science and learning about the world.”
Dainty strives to bring a sense of wonder to students through a hands-on curriculum. “Education can become rote. If science is taught in a way that kids get to explore and discover, while they are discovering truths about ecosystems or atomic structure, they can gain appreciation for what God has created,” she said.
The eighth-grade unit on genetics is an important point to bring faith into the discussion, according to Dainty.
“We are talking, in an age-appropriate way, about advances in science and ethical dilemmas; how science can be used to help, heal and serve, but not at the expense of beliefs and ideals,” Dainty said.
All discussion takes place in a tone encouraging children to discuss with their own family so parents may lead at a pace that is appropriate for their child.
A favorite for students are the labs. Dainty takes full advantage of the school’s science facilities and allows the children to experience the lessons of each unit with a hands-on activity. At the beginning of the school year, students earn a lab license, allowing them to work safely with flame, chemicals and dissection instruments.
Always looking to learn herself, Dainty attends a once-a-month professional development program for middle school science teachers facilitated by Matt Kloser, Niewland Director at the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education.
Kloser said, “Bringing these teachers together is important, because they are all science teachers that have no other science colleagues in their schools. This program helps open the door to natural cross-school collaborations.”
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