Blog post authored by Lisa Chizek
Elementary science is essential if we want our children to be successful in an ever-changing and complex world. Engaging in high-quality elementary science allows children opportunities to ask questions, investigate to find answers, make claims with evidence, and engage in scientific discourse. These experiences in science are necessary in order for children to develop into critical thinkers. Unfortunately, many elementary schools focus on literacy and math in an attempt to raise test scores while kicking science to the curb. This teacher-directed focus dampens children’s enthusiasm for learning and doesn’t allow them to engage in higher-level thinking. Since children are innately curious about their world and how it works, elementary teachers should capitalize on their enthusiasm for learning. Science can drive learning because children are excited about it and they want to learn more. When they are engaged with scientific phenomena, children are inspired to want to read and write about it and reading and writing become meaningful and important tools for them in their learning.
Elementary Science Ignites an Enthusiasm for Teaching and Learning
When a group of second-grade students was asked what they liked about doing science, they responded with a whole list of active and authentic learning experiences they enjoyed: discovering, exploring, experimenting, learning new things, figuring things out, doing observational drawings, and building things. Their enthusiasm for doing science came across clearly as they shared what they enjoyed.
Sharing her perspective for teaching science, one elementary teacher explained how high-quality science is student-directed and thus students are enthusiastic when they have opportunities to engage in science. Additionally, her description illustrated how her students’ enthusiasm for doing science rejuvenated her passion for teaching. “I love teaching science because you can incorporate all areas of the curriculum with very little trouble. Science is already about math and inquiry, but it also includes literacy and social studies depending on the projects you engage your students in. There is a mystery about science that children love. They love thinking about the way things work and can they make it work a different way. It’s almost like science is the only time they get to choose how they learn…..we are all about their ideas. In all other subjects, we give them the way to learn and it’s very black and white.”
When additional elementary teachers were asked what they liked about teaching science, they responded in a variety of ways. However, a clear theme emerged illustrating how their students’ energy and enthusiasm for learning science reignited their joy in teaching. In other words, the children’s excitement for learning science revitalizes the teachers’ joy in teaching. To help stress the importance of elementary science, NSTA developed a great resource with their position statement on elementary science education.
NSTA Position Statement on Elementary Science Education
Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors, October 2018
What would you and your students say about science? Please share your responses in the blog discussion.