Do We Still Believe in Science? Fire Up Science in Learning! Make Science the New Black!


Why do kids lose their enthusiasm for science? It seems to me in preschool and elementary school that science excites children. They love to explore their world and learn why things are the way they are. So what happens to this innate curiosity?

I believe it is still there. For some reason, interest seems to wane in middle school. But, the kids I have worked with love science. They want to know more. They loved learning music through science and math. Many claimed that those are their favorite subjects. Yet, at the same time, I know the interest lessens, and as a result, the aptitude is not developed.

Is it hard? Is it a lack of thorough teacher training?

Are teachers intimidated or afraid to seek outside help with more advanced science concepts?

Is it peer pressure? Science is only cool for some. Does it make you a geek or a nerd? Is there just not enough real science in mass media or pop culture? 

Have we forgotten to watch the latest rocket launch and be appropriately in awe? Did we forget that our eco system is in need of repair? Do sports take precedence for coolness?

I think all the above are problems. I would love to know what you think are the problems. What is your experience? Are your students motivated by learning about science and math?

STEM education is a buzz phrase in today’s public education rhetoric. Learning about STEM subjects can open a variety of doors for vocations and careers for students, both for career or college after high school. Many teachers claim they are adding STEM curriculum and projects to their daily work.  My fear is that only a few are doing this as the training, especially for elementary teachers, isn’t comprehensive as a part of traditional teacher training. Teachers get “methods” courses in science and mathematics–what does that exactly teach them?  No wonder they shy away from STEM!  Stem education must begin in the early grades to encourage students, build confidence in their skills, and prevent the attrition of interest in science and math that happens in middle school.

There is loud lip service paid to the need for STEM education. But what is the real follow-through? Are parents supportive, or are they intimidated? Do we figure that students will get this sometime later in their education?  Do you think it’s okay to try to go to engineering school or be an architect with three years of high school math that may only take  you through advanced algebra?

One of the questions to answer is how did my generation all turn out OK? Well, did they? Do we have enough scientists and engineers? Are we thinking? Are we creative and innovative in business?  Do we have high unemployment with many people wanting jobs, and there are jobs, but workers are not qualified to fill them?

I fear that we as a society, or many of us, do in fact fear science. We shy away from facts and prefer the pop culture take on the world. We have not learned how to discern fact from fiction. Just watch the news.

So I call you to action! Please comment and help me to understand and to try to make things change. I know there are a lot of people who want to encourage science and math, STEM or STEAM education. If science has an “image”problem, it is time to bring it into the cool, creative and innovative realm.  Talking about it is simply not enough. Let’s make science the new black!

An interesting article :

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/646174-why-we-don-t-believe-in-science

Spotlight on STEM: http://www.mediafire.com/?lh459b2c52d1q7d

My chart on science and art and how the two are similar and how the two are different.

science-v-art

Categories: 21st Century Education, creativity, critical thinking, Education reform, Imagination, Innovation, Mathematics eduction, science education, STEAM, STEM education, Uncategorized

10 comments

  1. I feel there are a few reasons that have caused a drop in science. In my experience, students coming up from elementary haven’t received a lot of the necessary skills needed for middle school science and beyond. There are not a lot of elementary school teachers that specialize in science and are comfortable with the subject. Therefore, middle school spends a lot of time playing catch up on skills. There is also a lack of resources. Lack of realistic training and resources that are practical to use in the classroom. Also, science requires a lot of supplies and consumables to be hands-on, and with budget cuts, teachers are often left buying their own supplies or doing with out. All this leads to more bookwork learning and lectures and less experimenting and hands-on discovery. Science isn’t as appealing to students ‘in theory’.

    • You are right about many of the reasons for the decline in science. State testing just started to test science five or six years ago, and it was a wake up call how far behind students were. In my state, many 6th and 8th graders had only 20-25% proficient and advanced, some school seven lower. Science must be hands on or experiential and then kids love it. It is no secret that not having quality education in science is doing a disservice to our children. Any ideas to effect change?

      Thanks for your comment.

      • One issue with the testing of science is the span that is tested. In the states that I’ve been in, science is tested every few years, expecting the students to remember three years worth of science in which the years are very content specific. Alternatively, math and english are tested yearly.
        Teachers need to be given for freedom in order to create more innovative and creative lessons for science. Teachers need to be able to develop their own curriculum based off of the standards. This would be one positive for charters that I see. I recently moved to a charter and have complete freedom to be creative. This works because I am held accountable. Last year I relied heavily on the district’s curriculum, as it was out first year open, but this year I am working in more of my creativity- we’ll see what happens with that :-)

      • It is difficult if science is not tested every year. In Colorado, it is tested every other year and the scores are never good. Students are catching up in middle school and a given amount of science knowledge is inferred and most elementary students don’t have experience with it. (That should change by the way.) Curriculum must be based on the standards, as that is where the test content comes from. At the same time, teachers can create interesting lessons aligned with standards that are experiential and project based so students remember the scientific concepts. So much time is spent on math and literacy and both skill sets are needed to be good at science and should be incorporated into lessons. There are new proposed science standards for the common core (have not looked at them yet), but my guess is they will encourage creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills through science and perhaps demand more science content knowledge using STEM skills from earlier grades. I believe using your creativity can’t help to benefit the outcome. Good luck.

  2. Science is messy and too many teachers want their classrooms (and test scores) to be neat, orderly, predictable and controlled. Many assume that kids cannot do the “fun” or “creative” things until they have the basic concepts and skills mastered, arguing it would be unsafe or unproductive. In a landscape where science curricula are overstuffed with content and standards, there is little room left for authentic inquiry and discovery. We spend so much time and energy focusing on cramming all the bits and bytes of scientific content that might be covered on THE EXAM, that we are left with very little time for kids to explore, test by trial and error and discover. If we shift our focus back to doing science instead of learning science, I think our kids will ultimately learn more and become more engaged.

    • You are absolutely right! Science needs to be experienced. I have said it before, it is just too messy, no right or wrong answer. Doing science will be learning science and the kids will be engaged-that is what matters! I think the way for children to learn and master content would be through experiment and experience, no? Taking all the fun out of science may be the reason we have fallen behind. It’s like memorizing the capitals of all the states–does that interest you in government?

  3. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

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