TESLA is a passionate group of future elementary school teachers dedicated to improving science teaching in their own classrooms and school communities.  In addition to gaining valuable skills as future science educators, TESLA members have also established a strong relationship with with Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, located in downtown State College.  The partnership allows TESLA members to gain valuable experience working with children in informal science education settings, and Discovery Space educational programs and exhibits are strongly supported through TESLA’s involvement.  TESLA provides a community of support for involved elementary education majors to come together, bonding over a shared passion for science education.  The organization has been growing in amazing ways over the years, and many exciting things are still to come!

Additional Information

TESLA was fortunate enough to travel to and present at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Boston during March of 2014.  In collaboration with Dr. Carla Zembal-Saul, Mark Merritt, and Michele Crowl, five TESLA members planned and delivered a presentation on the effectiveness of pre-service science educator opportunities, such as TESLA, in developing successful teachers.  TESLA’s mission at the conference was to share our experiences with representatives from other universities so that future teachers all across the country can receive support through programs that are modeled after TESLA’s strong example.  Along with sharing all of the amazing work that TESLA has accomplished at NSTA, TESLA members were also given the opportunity to attend the conference.  The resources, presentations, and panels proved to be informative and valuable and gave TESLA members a unique experience with science education before even graduating from the university.  Attending NSTA was a huge success and a big step for TESLA, and we hope to be able to attend NSTA again in the coming years.

The Kids Advisory Board (affectionately known as KAB) is a youth leadership team made up of third to fifth graders who are able to affect change in the museum through collaboration with TESLA.  In its beginning, TESLA decided that Discovery Space (our partner science museum located in downtown State College) is a space that serves kids, and to best serve kids, Discovery Space’s planning should include input from kids.  So TESLA reached out to a few of the museum’s most frequent elementary school visitors and asked them if they would be interested in meeting to give input about the museum.  From its humble beginnings, KAB has grown into a group that meets bi-weekly to teach kids more about science, to encourage them to share their love of science with others, and to give them voices in the exhibits, programs, and activities offered at Discovery Space.  The greatest accomplishment of KAB thus far has been hosting their own bi-annual event.  The kids work hard to research and create stations centered around a science theme, and all of their hard work then culminates into an entire event hosted by these amazing kids!  Be on the look out for this semester’s event on December 6, 2014 from 10am to noon.


TELSA members have recently been working with Penn State and the College of Engineering in hopes to enhance children's learning experiences through hands-on innovative exhibits. M E 340, is a mechanical engineering course offered through Penn State's College of Engineering that is intended to provide mechanical engineering students with the fundamental tools to produce an effective design solution in a realistic professional environment. These students work with TESLA members to develop exhibits that provide engaging science experiences, which ultimately spark creativity, curiosity, and imagination. Students in M E 340 will design an exhibit for Discovery Space, which will be tested by children, then revised if necessary, and eventually these exhibits will be placed on the museum floor for all guests to explore. Collaboration between TESLA and M E 340 students bridges the gap between the College of Education and the College of Engineering.

TESLA members enjoy working together with Discovery Space to plan programs that we directly implement with students in the surrounding communities.  Past programs include the development of two lesson-based activities revolving around the science of soap and the science behind chromatography.  TESLA members are currently working on developing after-school program curricula that members of our organization then take to State College Area elementary schools to engage with groups of about 20 students at a time, grades kindergarten through five.  These after-school programs revolve around a range of science themes and involve 3-5 activities for each after-school session.  Our goal with all of the programs that we create is to teach children science in meaningful and exciting ways.  

In hopes of keeping up with the growing impact that technology has on society today, TESLA members are working hard to develop iPad and smart-phone based scavenger hunts for the Discovery Space that visitors can use to explore the museum in more meaningful and fun ways.  The scavenger hunts will require children to go around to exhibits and take picture of different pieces of exhibits to demonstrate their understanding.  A scavenger hunt is made up of a series of missions, each stationed at a different exhibit.  Once a child successfully completes an entire scavenger hunt, he or she can check his or her answers with a front desk staff member and can receive a prize.  There are a number of scavenger hunts, based on different themes, and TESLA is enjoying engaging with this new technology approach to exhibits to expand student science learning in the museum.

TESLA members were asked to pilot an iPad trial through the College of Education in order to determine if iPads can function in the same capacity that currently required notebook computers do for education students in their programs.  Each interested TESLA member currently has an iPad from the College of Education that he or she can use for classes, homework, projects, and leisure.  Members who are working with the iPads meet monthly with a representative from the College of Education to evaluate the usefulness of the iPad and the ways that it serves the student.  In the past when this trial was conducted, TESLA members found the iPads useful, and the current trial is even better supported by the college in hopes that iPads can benefit College of Education students.  TESLA members have found iPads to be useful in the past because they allow prospective teachers to experiment with a range of recommended apps that they can use in their classrooms.  As TESLA students continue to engage with the iPads and check in with the College of Education, supports will be strengthened in hopes that iPads will be an acceptable substitute for MacBooks for education students in the future, should students choose this route.

Not only are TESLA members working with ME340 students to develop signage for museum exhibits, other TESLA  members are working towards creating signage to engage parents throughout the museum. These signs focus on child development, as well as science concepts that children are learning while engaging with the exhibit. These signs also include interactive QR codes that allow parents to take this particular concept further and complete an activity at home.