Development & External Relations

Science & Inquiry at the Trustees' Dinner

Posted by Nick Gray on April 30, 2013
Dr. Stuart Firestein
Dr. Stuart Firestein

On Tuesday, April 23, the Bank Street College Board of Trustees hosted the annual Trustees’ Dinner at a new location and with a new format. Colleagues in education and friends of the College joined the Trustees at the Century Association in New York City for an evening focused on how to approach the teaching of science.  

The centerpiece was a talk by Stuart Firestein, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Firestein is the author of Ignorance: How it Drives Science. His remarks on science and education stressed that asking questions is far more important to both learning and creating new knowledge than a narrow preoccupation with finding answers.

Firestein recalled the famous comment by Isaac Asimov: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...” He continued,

quotation markScience is a dynamic reality. Facts aren’t necessarily the goal; they shift and change based on new technology. What is important is how you frame the question.

View more photos from the event>>
Elizabeth Dickey, Stuart Firestein, & Tony Asnes
Elizabeth Dickey, Stuart Firestein, & Tony Asnes
Sarah & Geoffrey Gund, Laura Parsons
Sarah & Geoffrey Gund, Laura Parsons

Earlier in the program, Bank Street President Elizabeth Dickey noted the current public discussion about STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math). She described Bank Street’s leadership over its hundred years of existence in preparing expert teachers in science and math, and creating curricula that excites children to become active learners. She mentioned that Bank Street founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell referred to herself as “a scientist by conviction,” and pointed to the work of the College’s Kerlin Science Institute, a professional development program designed to enhance the content knowledge and inquiry-oriented science teaching of public school educators.

As reflected by its recent commitment to participation in the Carnegie Corporation’s 100Kin10 STEM initiative, Bank Street is one of the teacher preparation institutions at the forefront of the nation’s commitment to improving science and math education. Dr. Firestein’s talk provided a timely critique on how to spark curiosity and creative thinking in young students on those topics.

Gifts raised from the Trustees' Dinner support the Bank Street Annual Fund, which provides the unrestricted funding for the College’s most urgent needs. Donors to the Bank Street Annual Fund look to the Board of Trustees and the College to determine the best investments in promoting sustainability and growth. Bank Street welcomes gifts to support the goals of the Trustees’ Dinner, and contributions are fully tax-deductible.