Today I took my daughter to The McWane Science Center for a birthday party. It is one of those hands-on science museum. It was fun watching the kids play on the different exhibits. Its cool to see them do things that use questioning skills even if they did not know they were. I would get frustrated with my daughter when I was trying to explain why something happened and she would not listen. But it was not until later I realized she was building knowledge she will one day recall or it will help her understand something later.
School started back this week and this is the 1st year I am just teaching science. My first day with my new classes we discussed why we have science class. I told them two reasons.
The first was to learn how to question. Just imagine if BP and their execs and engineers asked all the questions they needed to ask before drilling in the Gulf. Questioning was something my daughter was doing as she played with the silly exhibits at the museum. It was natural to her. Some how as we grow old that natural skill disappears. Science teaches us to nourish that skill. To help it grow.
The second reason, to learn about our impact on this planet. I teach Earth science. I do not see how you can just teach facts about the Earth and not teach about the impact each of us has on it. I have always done this but this year when I explained this goal, all of my classes brought up the Deep Horizon oil leak/spill. This was something that has happened close to their home, most had seen tar balls over the summer. They were angry, which I think is a good thing. This one terrible event has caused my students to relate to what I am teaching.
That brings us back to my daughter at the science museum. Going to places like that and experiencing science hands on causes children to relate. I know that is a over-used term in education, having the subject matter relate to them, but it can. It goes back to the post I wrote about story telling. Teachers are experts, they need to share their knowledge with students, but make sure they know why they are learning it. Have them question why they should learn it. Let them question you even! Yeah I know that one is tough, no one likes that one kid who obsesses over proving you wrong, but let them know that its ok to question anything , everyone, and everything! Be an example and question things yourself! Science is not something that can be found in a text book somewhere. It is not a bunch of facts. It is the world around us and how and why it works the way it does. Once kids understand that is the basics of science they will start notice it around them.