Three million-plus TikTok followers can’t be wrong. Neither are 300,000 more on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
They’re all tuning in to learn from Nancy Bullard ‘18, M.Ed., as she brings science to life for students, parents, teachers and others through social media in lively, attention-grabbing ways. The best part is they are able to replicate the experiments Bullard demonstrates in their own classrooms, kitchens and garages with their young scientists.
“Science is an exciting subject that allows you to have cool, delightful moments with students as they’re learning something new or seeing an experiment for the first time — usually with something exploding or bubbling over,” said Bullard. “My initial objective for using social media was to showcase easy, engaging and hands-on science during the pandemic, when teachers everywhere were facing challenges none of us had ever encountered.”
A PANDEMIC-INSPIRED IDEA
A fourth-generation North Carolina public school teacher, Bullard — who learned high school biology in her mother’s classroom — is first and foremost a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools K-5 science lab teacher, a position that is available at about 40 of 102 CMS elementary schools. At Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School, where she’s taught for more than decade, science is part of the school’s “specials rotation.” It is considered a priority subject alongside physical education, music and art.
“We’re fortunate that our school’s administrators value science enough to allot for a position that provides hands-on labs for every grade level to supplement the science curriculum taught in homerooms,” Bullard explained. “Every student has a lab experience approximately once a week. A different class rotates through my door every 50 minutes.”
One way CMS sought to curb the learning challenges that came with pandemic-related school lockdowns was to designate a small group of educators to serve as virtual science teachers for each grade. Bullard was tapped for the district’s third graders.
TEACHING STUDENTS AND INSPIRING TEACHERS
“I was at home filming myself every day for content for the district. At the same time, I noticed during virtual science labs with my regular students that no one was having any fun. In fact, attendance was very low,” said Bullard. “So I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll take some of the videos I’m creating where I’m using things from around my house and make them into short-form TikTok videos and see if that might interest my lab students.’”
Now, after learning to use TikTok with the skill of a social media influencer, she ranks among the platform’s sensations. Known to her fans as Mrs. B TV, Bullard — who was named a 2022 Charlottean of the Year by Charlotte magazine — hears from new and experienced classroom teachers, homeschoolers, camp directors, parents and grandparents who are eager to try the experiments she shares.
“Teachers trust — and love learning from — other teachers,” she said. “I hope they recognize I am a teacher just like them — and that seeing what I’m doing gives them confidence to engage their students in similar ways.”