Post 3: The Purpose of Science Education by Becca Mikolajczak

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By Becca Mikolajczak

it is important to teach science because it is an important part of human culture, it provides common experiences for the development of science language and logic and problem-solving skills, and can become a student’s lifelong talent

The purpose of teaching science education in the elementary grades is to create interest and excitement about learning science for students, change any stigmas or stereotypes about science (e.g. its curriculum and its standards), and to develop independently thinking and acting students. Science is one of the hardest and most difficult content areas to teach and to learn about because the subject takes more time than other subjects, it is a non-fiction content area, and there are technical procedures that students need to follow when doing an experiment.  However, it is important to teach science because it is an important part of human culture, it provides common experiences for the development of science language and logic and problem-solving skills, and can become a student’s lifelong talent; but at such a young age, students don’t want to be learning about “boring” science content, they want to be reading and writing about fictional events or something that is interesting to them.

For teachers, it is getting harder to teach science because many schools don’t have a laid out science curricula that is aligned with the new Next Generation Science Standards, and with these new standards, teachers are becoming even less confident about their science teaching skills, and there is no motivation to teach science because of a lack of interest on the teacher’s part.  The only way to bring science education back to life in the elementary grades is to have an open mind about science and to take the time to learn effective teaching strategies to make learning about science fun.  The reasons why science isn’t being taught in schools shouldn’t hold teachers back from incorporating science into the rest of the content areas because using science in the classroom can be fun and educational for everyone, and this includes the teacher.

Practicing good science teaching skills is not necessarily harder than we think-the main idea is that the teaching should be designed for all students to develop the basic knowledge and skills, interests and habits of mind that will help students make the efforts to learn about the subject in a deeper way as they get older.  This means that yes, the standards have to be met and certain methods and protocols must be taught, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a boring or intricate lesson.  As a teacher, you need to know the content area you will be teaching but also have the ability to make connections and excite the students; therefore, teachers should be inclined to make science lessons fun and create a block of time to teach science, whether it is every other day or every other week; if it’s possible to incorporate science into reading and writing, then it should be done so students can learn more and do more than just reading or writing about a story.  For example, teaching students about the lunar cycle doesn’t have to be strictly read a book and then write an informative paragraph or essay; find a song that is catchy that students can interact with, or have students act out the moon cycle, or bring in food that students can use as models to create their own lunar cycle.  I find that the best way to practice good science teaching skills is to create a science lesson for the students, read it as a whole, and then ask myself “Would I be excited to learn and participate in this lesson if I were a student?”.  If yes, then teach the lesson and see how it goes; if not, then how can the lesson be improved and made more exciting for the students?  To become an effective science teacher, teachers need to participate in any form of professional development that will help them increase the content understanding and ability to decide when and how to present the science content to students.  Another way to make learning about science fun for students is to create lessons that focus on phenomena based events because these lessons will help generate students’ interest and make learning about the content seem like it was the students’ idea so the learning will be focused on what the students want to learn with the teaching guiding and scaffolding the lesson based on the science standard.

Want to read more from Becca? Check out her blog!

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