Science and Silly String

They say a classroom can open doors to the world — but what if your teacher brings the world to your classroom? Davenport High School Science Department Head Laura McCreery ’03 strives to give her students “light-bulb” moments, especially if it means taking her class outside the traditional four-walled classroom.

Her efforts to bring knowledge to life include taking her class outside to act out the human lymphatic system, coaching students to experience what a “natural cell killer” may be capable of doing to plasma cells — including representing the science behind it with Silly String.

“Kids need to know how [a subject] relates to them,” says McCreery, who majored in biology at Mount Mercy. “The more authentic we can make it for them, the more they’ll learn and make it relevant to their lives.”

Her efforts to connect with her students have earned her high praise. The Iowa Academy of Science recently awarded her with the 2010 Iowa Excellence in Science Teaching Award, recognizing her extraordinary endeavors of bringing science to life.

While a student at Mount Mercy, the same science she now teaches was brought to life for her as well. The late Frank Jaszcz, Ph.D. and Professor of Biology Neil Bernstein, Ph.D. were instrumental in providing sparks of inspiration. “Dr. Jaszcz always made biology really exciting, and Dr. Bernstein knew how to make it personable,” says McCreery. “Between the two of them, it solidified what I wanted to do.”

McCreery teaches invertebrate and vertebrate zoology, anatomy and physiology, biology and genetics at Davenport North High School, where she empowers students who will be the researchers and doctors of tomorrow. “These students have the potential to be future doctors and nurses in the healthcare field, and I hope to give them a good foundation — that is my goal,” says McCreery. “The transfer of knowledge is my favorite part.”