Catching the science bug early in life

teaching them young

Catching the science bug early in life

In today’s world of dominance of science and technology, there is a vital need of a scientifically-literate citizenry. And this is only possible if we start early. And by early, I mean  kids in school. It’s evident that the love or interest in science education begins in elementary schools. This period is an important time to spark scientific inquiry and curiosity in young children.

In elementary schools, the focus needs to be on making science fun for students. This aids their interest and captures their insatiable curiosity and sense of wonder. Also, students enter the classroom with their own ideas about how the world
operates and are budding young scientists in their own right!

Science is funCreative science programmes help children develop a love for science and  feel they can do deal with this fascinating subject in a fun manner. For such science programmes, it is necessary to determine the age-appropriate introduction of
science material. Traditional science instruction is less vibrant and rarely allows students to explore, question and make discoveries. It is also important to remember that all young children are natural builders and explorers.

Really good elementary school science will be a hands-on or minds-on kind of activity because at that level, the emphasis is on learning to like science. Inquiry seems to be preferred instructional method for elementary science classes because it directly engages student’s thinking about a problem, usually in the form of scientific investigation. Inquiry practice and hands-on experience emphasise that students need to learn from activities. Thus, the elementary science instruction needs to utilise inquiry-based learning.

Students make almost all decisions in quintessential open inquiry activities. Inquiry for elementary students involves getting them to ask scientifically-based questions about objects, living things, and their natural world. They should be provided with opportunities to have a direct experience with common objects, materials, and living things in the environment. This method encourages and enhances their natural curiosity and motivation for learning and connect science to student’s everyday life.

Inquiry can take many forms, such as describing objects, events and organisms; classifying them and doing a fair test without distorting scientific understanding. But many students at this stage are not used to figuring out so much on their own; but the teachers can make the transition gradually acting as facilitators. It is a fundamental requirement for all young children to get opportunities to experience meaningful and thoughtful instructional learning.

Cook-book labs that involve step-by-step directions leading to certain outcomes do not satisfy the perennial call by inquiry-based learning in science. Kit-based elementary science is essentially to tell students what to do, yet fail to provide insight into how science is constructed. Their strength is that the kits motivate kids and the hands-on experience makes science more memorable. Another thing to remember here is that the skills of observation and reasoning are equally important for every science-loving mind.

Young explorers

Kids are concrete thinkers, and they love to tinker with things, manipulate things, watch things that move and things that change. They are hardwired to ask questions, which basically means they are hardwired for science. Multiple modes and patterns of learning science are not only inevitable but also desirable, because they paint a rich picture of meaningful learning in diverse situations. Elementary students have to be effectively engaged and given chances to rethink how to observe and reason about the world, moving them from an everyday way of thinking to a scientific one.
What better teacher than nature to teach the kids about science? Nature study is a popular practice among elementary school children and for good reason – it is wonderful, hands-on way to learn about natural world. The connections they make all lay the foundation for their future study of sciences.

Kids have natural tendencies to explore and learn, and develop language and mathematical skills through observation, manipulation and communication. They learn to question, describe, test, explain and communicate. Their natural curiosity leads them to explore the natural world. Nature study provides a setting for the practice of observation skills, to awaken curiosity and inquiry. They naturally ask questions about objects, organisms, and events in the environment.

Field trips have been a tradition since the earliest schools were formed. These trips serve as opportunities for exploration, self-guided learning, discovery, first-hand experience, cognitive learning and affective learning. They are good ways to create interest about a subject. Field trips expand learning by giving the student access to the real things, enhance concepts and motivate  kids to want to learn more and are appropriate for all ages.

For kids just entering school, teaching computer science is about giving them the thinking skills that will help them proactive learners and citizens, in a world that is increasingly influenced by the manipulation of the digital bit. Elementary school is the place to master the basics, including literacy-in both language and technology and numeracy. Children improve hand-eye coordination with the use of keyboard and mouse, but they also can absorb a lot about the specific subjects they are learning about.

Today, with constant advancement of technology, there are opportunities to introduce new ways of teaching to young students. The benefits of using computers and age-appropriate computer software are countless. Many types of software are available for teachers with students in elementary school to ensure that both simple and complex scientific matters can be thoroughly explained and demonstrated.

Science activities are diverse and often more difficult to supervise than other instructional activities. The physical setting of teaching science must be safe, adequate, and appropriate. There needs to be a safe classroom environment for learning science in elementary level. Safety in the classroom depends on the wise selection of experiments, materials, resources and field experiences as well as consistent adherence to correct and safe techniques.

It is obvious to shift science instruction from the traditional teacher-led, lecture-driven classroom to a hands-on, problem-based learning environment. Hands-on science encapsulates the philosophy to move classroom practice beyond the isolated use of science textbooks or predigested verification labs. The goal for elementary science is not to cram our kid’s heads with scientific facts and information they have little use. Instead, the aim is to inculcate a pure love for pure sciences, that can define our future.

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