During my experience as a teacher assistant at an elementary school, I ran across a book containing many science lessons and activities. In it, the author described what she called, a Guided Discovery Approach to Teaching Science. This approach involves students in investigations with exploratory activities that lead them to draw valid conclusions, acquire skills, and understand concepts. I later found out that this method is widely known but seldom used. Teachers now a day are pressured to follow a curriculum with a strict schedule that leaves little to no time for experiments and activities. I believe that the best way to teach elementary school science is to use a variety of methods, including hands-on-activities. As teachers, we understand that knowledge is a tentative and social construction; therefore, students must be actively engaged in their own learning for the concepts to truly make sense, this means that we must make time in our schedules for discovery. Remember that the cycle of scientific discovery is first a question or series of questions. Second, through a discussion a problem is identified and narrowed so that the kids can solve the problem. Third, with your assistance, the children propose a way of looking at the problem and then collect the data. Fourth, the students interpret and summarize their findings. They come to conclusions, which they evaluate. Last, new questions arise with new problems, which need to be investigated which produce new conclusions. Then the process is repeated. The best way to discover science is with experiments. They promote interest and curiosity. The child can take what they learned and use it for future experiments and discovery. It becomes part of their schema. It is also good to have a discussion after the experiment. This way you can find out what the children learned and what they do not understand.
Below is a link for fun and engaging science lessons.
Elementary science education is no longer nature study or assigning readings and answering questions at the end of a chapter. It is teaching student skills for learning how to learn, how to question, how to investigate, and sometimes how to recognize that there isn’t enough evidence to come to a valid conclusion. Science isn’t exclusively for the scientist. The problem skills of science are valuable, lifetime tools, that are important for everyone.
(This entry to HUNBlog was contributed by guest blogger Nydia Stovall )