As science educators, we often aim to prepare “perfect science lessons”. However, this noble aim often eludes us. A lot of the times our lessons are filled with science jargons and textbook worksheets. We sometimes become so engrossed in the details, when developing our lessons, that we fail to remember the students and how well the strategies employed will help them to interact with the content in a meaningful and beneficial way.
Daily classroom routines of staring in wonderment at powerpoint slides with repeated murmurs of, “do we have to copy” are sure signs of boredom and disengagement. Students in classes such as these usually fall asleep when the teacher turns around to write on the board and, if left unchecked, will remain sleeping until just before the class ends. Therefore, our challenge as educators is to turn boredom into engagement during science lessons through strategies that encourage students to focus and learn.
Children, especially in elementary school, are generally curious about the world around them. Posing conceptual questions related to the topic of study is one of the first steps to igniting yourstudents’ interest in the lesson. Teachers may begin lessons with a question pertaining to the topic of study. This brief introduction of the topic through questioning can activate students’ prior knowledge about the content and motivate them to want to learn more about the topic. For example, in a science class where the week’s lesson is about the Water Cycle, an introductory question per day in the format of either, When, What, Where, Why or How, can be asked. Questions can range from easy to challenging as the days and lessons progress. Project based activities in which students have a hands on approach in understanding the processes through which water undergoes can help create a genuine interest in the topic. Students usually understand better when they are actively engaged in the process. This also helps to build their confidence especially when they get it right.
Forming a science club is a great way to ignite students’ interest as they can share ideas and explore the subject further. Implementing a school club would require supportfrom key stakeholders, such as parents and the school administration, in order to align it with the school’s curriculum and goals. The club can include specially designed t-shirts for its members, tutoring resources, fieldtrips and hand-on learning activities through collaborative learning among others.
Reading science material can be fun. This can be facilitated by introducing science magazines such as Science world, New Scientist, Kids Discovery, Science Scope, and Discovery. The teacher can include fun activities such as having students dramatise, debate, create cartoons or write a short piece of prose or poetry on what they have read in these magazines. Another activity can be a “Battle of the Magazines” where students sit on a panel and challenge each other with the material they have read in the magazine. Teachers can enlist the help of the school’s librarian for resource material for each activity.
Project based learning
Project based learning is more motivational and promotes the active engagement of students. Students get the opportunity to practice and work on real scientific problems in the classroom as real scientists would do. Students can work in collaborative groups to explore the challenges that they are presented with. Project based learning is a good way to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in our students.
Science lessons can be exciting for students. More so, when science teachers think outside the box to come up with creative ways which positively stimulate the interests of the students in the lessons. This can be achieved by guiding them towards making their own discoveries in the science classroom.
By Barika Bettis