Active or passive science?

One of my biggest questions is how to get the younger elementary students involved in science. Should we do more hands-on activities, having them participate in the environment or should we watch videos? —F., Texas

“Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.” ― Carl Sagan

We were all born with curiosity, a willingness to experiment and wanting to figure out how the world works. Science should be the easiest subject to teach – we just need to let human nature take its course! I think adults do a good job of stopping young people from exploring and asking simple, but tough, questions. Hands-on activities that encourage manipulation and experimentation along with exploring the real world is where students really learn science. Have them make their own videos. You may be surprised at how involved they will get in their projects!

The role of the teacher, in my opinion, is to provide opportunities to explore and inquire. Teach some basic things like: how to conduct a fair test; use observation not conjecture; record data accurately; how to reach a conclusion based on evidence and how to present data. In essence, teach children the nature of science – not just arbitrary facts. Let them see that science is an active pursuit of knowledge.

Hope this helps!


Photo Credit: Cblack95 via Wikimedia Commons

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