I’ve been teaching science for three years. My students seem to see science as an abstract subject and have trouble imagining it. How can I help my students appreciate the lessons more with limited time and resources?
I think the way to teach science with less abstraction is to ground your lessons in observable phenomena. Students build up knowledge and understanding by examining and investigating commonplace events. These don’t have to be expensive demonstrations—just simple, everyday observations, pictures or videos. There are many websites that provide these phenomenon and storylines to make just such learning happen. The NSTA Learning Center and NGSS Hub are excellent places to search for these. One example: A time-lapse video of tree shadows moving during the day can be a springboard to investigating the motion of planets. Case studies are similar to using phenomenon-based teaching and there are many websites that provide examples to use in science classrooms.
Inquiry projects allowing students to select their topics are another way for students to dive into a concept and demystify it. They will take ownership for their learning and it will be more meaningful to them.
Integrate the nature of science and how scientists think and work into your teaching. I think people disbelieve scientific claims and call them abstract because they don’t understand how scientists draw conclusions or the continual change inherent in the nature of scientific knowledge. Students should discover that science isn’t magical or arcane, it is hard work and conclusions based on the best evidence.
You can accomplish all these things with the smallest of budgets.
Keep it grounded. Keep it real. And, of course, keep it fun!
Hope this helps!