When you ask students what science makes them think of there are two groups. The groups who think of science experiments and just love it! Then there are the groups who hate it because of all the hard language and concepts. Science is a fun subject beyond the experiments but how can teachers help all students see that? Here are a few creative ways (in no particular order) to make science engaging and memorable (beyond just the typical science experiments).
– Encourage and celebrate curiosity. Provide students with sticky notes or notepads to collect their questions of things they wonder about throughout the day. Then once a week have students pick from their collection one they want share with the class and investigate further. (Don’t forget to come back together and share their findings. You’ll be amazed at the neat things you’ll learn!)
– Create mystery bags, tubes, or boxes for students to investigate. Place these somewhere in the room or a center. Students should not know what’s in it, but instead, they have to feel and use their observation skills to determine it. It’s very interesting the way they go about determining what item is in it. Make sure it is completely prevented from being revealed. As the week progresses provide hints if desired and on Friday reveal it. Discuss with students what methods they used to guess what it was.
– Provide students with mini-observation notebooks. When Ralph Fletcher came out with that book about the writer’s notebook, it gave me the idea to have an observation notebook in my science class. I made my students carry around little spiral notebooks everywhere. They write down things they notice in the science world – things that pique their interest or make them curious. They could even glue in “scientific discoveries” from outdoors during recess or after school.
– Have a box with artifacts or materials in it. Have students try to guess the scientific concept that connects them in their free time. Then whenever you have a few minutes, discuss their relationships and how they all relate to the science topic. I remember some of my biggest impacts in science were seeing things I’d never seen before – up close where I could touch it!
– Have an ongoing science project. This can be related to your topic of study, such as plants where you would grow a plant from the beginning and measure its growth daily, or it could be unrelated such as graphing weather patterns.
– Each week have a small demonstration, experiment, or engineering challenge for students.
– Create a facts bulletin board where students bring in fascinating facts they find related to the current topic of study. Alternatively, you could collect “science in the news.”
There are many ways to make science engaging and memorable, besides just the experiments. While some students dislike science because of its difficult concepts and vocabulary, teachers can build in scaffolding along with creative ideas, such as these, to create that passion in all children.