2015 Conference Based on Hawkins Exhibit

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Archived Page for Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child:
The Philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins - 2015 Exhibit and Conference

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wheelock College hosted its first annual day of hands-on exploration and scientific inquiry inspired by the education philosophy of David and Frances Hawkins.

This enriching professional development conference on Saturday, October 3, 2015, provided educators a chance to practice the many ways to cultivate the scientist in every student. Exhibits and activities illustrated the Hawkins' dynamic approaches to teaching and learning that engage children's existing curiosity using readily available materials.

See the 2015 Conference Agenda (pdf)

See photos and videos from the 2015 Conference

Inspired by Hawkins Exhibit

Hawkins Centers of Learning logoThis conference was an outgrowth of "Cultivate the Scientist in Every Child: The Philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins," an exhibit of the Hawkins' work hosted at the Earl Center in collaboration with the Hawkins Centers of Learning. This exciting exhibit, on display from Oct. 1 - Nov. 14, 2015, not only served as the catalyst for the daylong conference but also for outreach to New England educators. Documentation of our local children's science inquiry was also be on display.

Conference Offers Dynamic Learning Opportunities

Educators participating in the Oct. 3 conference engaged in a hands-on exploration of curiosity-based learning and ways to integrate the Hawkins' concepts into their own experiences.

Exploration stations on a variety of themes tied to the Hawkins philosophy were lead by Wheelock professors and other education leaders. These stations included:

Balance - Led by Hawkins Centers of Learning/New England
Balance investigations based on the work and experience of Barry Kluger-Bells at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Individually and in small groups, use pegboard shapes, wooden boards, "Fiddlestix" and other related materials to attempt to find balance through both open and guided exploration.

Games for Creativity and Discovery - Led by Wheelock Family Theatre and Ellie Friedland
Discovery happens through creativity, experimentation, and risk-taking, and it requires playfulness and willingness to "not know." Creativity is a whole-body experience—we are most open and creative when we engage our minds and bodies together. These physical games help de-mechanize and de-routinize thinking, and bring out teachers' creativity and that of their students.

What Is Your Angle? - Led by Judy Richards and Sam Cook
Use everyday materials to create protractors and find angles in our environment. Why are angles so important in constructing buildings, bridges, and in architectural design? How do you translate these concepts for our youngest children?

Building...The Science and Engineering - Led by Karen Worth and Jeff Winokur
We all build and create structures—humans and animals. Explore the science and engineering of building things. What can we build? How can we build? Play around with forces and motion.

A Citizen Science Playground - Led by Carie Cardamone
Explore ways of exposing students to scientific inquiry through a variety of Citizen Science projects (opportunities for ordinary people to work with scientists to contribute to real research). Experiment with a variety of projects and brainstorm ways to leverage the activities to help students develop a personal interest in science and see how they can make valuable contributions to science.

Today's Changing Play! What Might Hawkins Do? - Led by Diane Levin
David and Frances Hawkins understood that quality play with real objects was at the heart of meaningful physical knowledge learning and development in young children. And they taught us how to promote children's physical knowledge play in optimal, give-and-take ways. Much has happened today that undermines many of the key elements of play that the Hawkins stressed; for instance, play is being replaced by the early teaching of basic skills and the increasing time with media. Through a variety of hands-on play activities using clay and Playdough, this session will compare and contrast play then and now, and share strategies for promoting the kind of play that the Hawkinses advocated with today's young children.

Partnering Nature & Culture - Led by Julie Bernson, deCordova Museum, and Margaret Hoffman
How do nature and culture both support and impede on our ability to structure our environment. Use Oscar Tuazon's Partners in deCordova's Sculpture Park as inspiration for building across structural divides such as walkways and grass, and trees and manicured lawn. The intersections of aesthetics, metaphor, and physics will be our guides as we build and explore.

Maker Stations - lead by you and Earl Center Staff
Tap back into your childhood while exploring with various materials. How can you guide your own play? How will your creation differ from those next to you? How will it be the same? Be your own teacher and creator.


The conference, the Hawkins exhibit, and activity stations were held in the Earl Center for Learning and Innovation. The Earl Center is an exciting new space that serves as a resource for current and future educators, social workers, and child life professionals within Wheelock and across Boston. It provides a rich, well-rounded set of resources for both research and practice, as well as an innovative space for educators and students to gather and learn.

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