3 Tips for Teaching Science with Active Learning
According to a study from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 60 percent of students in the United States who enroll in a STEM field at the college level switch to a non-STEM field or drop out.
It is more important than ever to ensure kids are interested in learning and sticking with STEM.
Active learning encourages students to frame questions themselves. Instead of following a general textbook’s pre-given questions. The result is students learn to think and work through problems rather than reciting a standard, already learned list of facts.
Here are 3 tips on how to teach science that can be applied on all levels.
1. Start with the Method
Unlike any other subject, science is not based on learning human culture or history (for the most part). Studying literature means know the authors, the books and the concepts. And yes, it’s important to know Isaac Newton and his discovery. But gravity would still exist without that discovery. Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity, he didn’t invent it. While other areas of study focus on the history, culture, and creations of Man (like math), science is based off observations we have made about the world around us.
The study of science revolves around one specific constant, the scientific method. It is the principal element of understanding how the world works.
We actually use the scientific method in our everyday lives. We notice a lamp bulb is out (observations). Next, we ask if it’s blown out or loose (question). We might believe (hypothesis) that if the filament makes a noise when shook, it’s blown, if not, then it needs to be tightened. Then we decide what happens if we are right, the bulb is blown (testable predictions). And finally, we shake the bulb, it doesn’t make noise, we screw it in tighter, and observe (Refine, Alter, Expand or Reject Hypotheses).
The earlier children learn how to apply the scientific method, the better they will be able to understand and function in the world.
2. Make Sense of it
One of the great aspects about the subject is the vast amount to learn in all of God’s creation and to comprehend His order in the universe. God’s creation is vast, and science helps us to comprehend many of the aspects of his order. However, that can be intimidating, especially as children continue to discover and learn more complex content.
The scientific method has a way of making it all sense. Its results can be observed, tested, implemented, constantly questioned, and ultimately tested in order to help us understand the results.
3. Focus on Vocab
Vocabulary is where students studying science start to tune out, which can lead to future problems. When a word doesn’t mean anything to a student, it is easy to forget about it and move on without ever understanding.
A strong vocabulary gives students a strong foundation and ability to progress in grasping material.
Living Science is a Christian-based STEM homeschool program for Fourth Grade through High School. While at least one science class is mandatory, we offer an assortment of classes that allow for flexibility in homeschooling and learning.
We have students of all ages which take trips during their classes to remove the walls associated with the classroom and learn in a natural environment. These trips allow them to use all their senses to make lessons really come alive.
 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Engage to excel: producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (White House, 2012).