Designing Science to Inspire Young Learners6
DesigningScience to Inspire Young Learners
Scienceis a multi-faceted field (Trundle, 2008: 6). It is a body ofknowledge with facts and a process of continuous discovery thatallows for the linking of the isolated facts to the comprehensive andcoherent understanding of the natural world (2008:7). Science isexciting in that it provides the thrill of figuring out somethingthat no one else had discovered before. The complexity of the factsstated and the discoveries made display science as a difficult entityto dwell on. Children interested in science as a lifelong career stemfrom the different approaches to teaching and learning.
InEngland, Science curriculum was outlined in the year 1985. Here itwas a requirement for all students aged 5-16 to learn Science.Bringing the idea of "Science for all in both primary and highschool level" (Taber, 2014: 1). The Science to be taughtincluded the methods and knowledge acquisition. It is from this thatthat the National curriculum of Science emerged in England.
Thekey aspects of learning science include Knowledge and understandingof the subject matter and planning on the teaching and learningprocess (Gross, 2012: 3). It also involves the collection ofevidence, recording and presentation, interpretation, evaluation anddevelopment of informed attitudes towards science (2012: 4). Theaspects are emphasized at the Early Years Foundation Stages oflearners which covers the development, care and learning from age 0to five years.
Learnersacquire knowledge through their ideas, inquiry, through the ICT andengagement with friends. The excitement about science, therefore, canbe build using the primary 5E`s teaching and learning approach, thecartoon approach, existence of science in daily life and informationon the latest discoveries (Byrne, Christodoulou and Sharp, 2007). Forexample in their school In their school they experienced a fewinspirational science teaching that included a melting chocolateexperiment that showed different states of matter in chocolate. Thisalso was a cross curricular topic in literacy descriptive writing ,that children had to describe how different chocolate types feels ,tastes , smells and how it sounds while chewing e.g. crunchiness.
The5E`s of learning and teaching involves five phases of engaging,explaining, elaborating and evaluation. The model engages thechildren actively in the learning process as they employ their priorknowledge and literacy to explain the hands-on experience of thescientific phenomenon (Clegg, 2007). It builds on the ideas that thelearners have concerning the subject, what they have been told andwhat they bring in.
Engagingyoung learners involves tackling each topic or unit in depth(Trundle, 2008: 7). Each unit mentally engages learners to engage indifferent activities, build interest in the concept develop, shareknowledge acquired prior and accommodate the new ideas acquired(Devereux, 2000). Exploring involves the learners` hands-on tacklingof the scientific phenomenon and describing in the way theyconceptualize it. These give them firsthand experience and theknowledge used to help others make sense of the new concept.
Accordingto Harlen`s (2000) explanation, banking on the experience attained inexploration makes it easier for the teacher to develop explanationsfor the phenomenon based on the terms and concepts used by the younglearners. Elaboration provides learners with the opportunity to applythe acquired knowledge to new situations developing a deeperunderstanding of the concept. The evaluation process helps learnersreflect, review and change their beliefs, skills and understandingthus encouraging their persuasion of science.
Thecartoon concept approach provides an alternative means of tacklingscience (Michael, 2011: 117). The development of cartoon-styledrawings provides ideas in an appealing and accessible format thattriggers the young learners mind. It is a good approach to elicitinglearners` ideas and acts as a stimulus to reflection on the attitudetowards science (Walker, 2010).
Theexistence of science in the daily life is a motivation towardspursuing science as a career. The availability of observationequipment like the microscope, laboratory to carry out experimentsand the engagement in science experiments on regular basisdemystifies the perceived difficulty of science subject (Pace, 2000).In this school for example they handled an experiment and the topicthey looked into was moon landing where children made moon buggies.Different clubs based on science also build the learners interest inscience as they unconsciously engage in scientific methods in theirexperiments. The routine keeps them geared towards understanding ofdifferent concepts and exploring different concepts and phenomenon(Wenham, 2010).
Beingin the know-how of the latest discoveries in the scientific fieldsoften makes the learners feel part of the science community. Thisbuilds their morale and the urge to discover on their own newdiscoveries also acquaint them with up-to-date occurrences adding totheir knowledge (Taber, 2014). For example pupils in this school weremade to handle an experiment on parachute making. By the time theyfinished handling the experiment, they had discovered a lot thusbuilding their interest in science.
Whatis expected of the teachers (Roden and Archer, 2014)?
Masteryof the subject content of science. The teachers need to understandthe nature of science, the process of planning, carrying out andevaluation of scientific phenomenon and the need for precise andclear communication forms (Roden and Archer, 2014). The mastery alsoinvolves health and safety measures, life processes of organisms,physical processes and material and their properties. Backgroundknowledge, expertise and experience are a basis for impartingin-depth and relevant knowledge to the learners (Jansen, 1995).
Adherenceto the National Curriculum. The curriculum is organized to suit thefour key stages of learners` development and the programmes includescience that they should be taught, attainment targets and gaugingthe learners` performance (Gordon, 1986). The scientific enquiry onideas and evidence, life processes of plants and organisms, materialand their properties and physical processes are the programmes to betaught on the early development of learners Rose, 2009).
Itis expected of teachers to possess knowledge of different fields andissues that govern the learning process and attainment of fulfillingeducational system for the children (Harlen, 2000). According toSmith (1954) for successful teaching process the knowledge shouldcirculate the following: Content knowledge- teachers ought to be wellversed with knowledge of science and of science to contributeadequately to the children understanding of the universally heldscientific views, the general pedagogical knowledge that requires theteacher to familiarize with classroom management and organizationthat go above the subject matter, curriculum knowledge as a teacheris in the know of the relevant guidelines of teaching, the nationalrequirements on science learning and the materials available tofacilitate the learning process, a teacher ought to have pedagogicalcontent knowledge about how to teach different science topics, aninclusion of useful and relevant illustrations and examples,fostering learning in a classroom also involves having knowledgeabout the learners and their characteristics (Smith, 1954). This helpcaters for the different needs, interests and learning pace, andlearning and teaching usually drive at the attainment of educationalgoals, values, purpose and knowledge on the philosophy and history ofeducation in general.
Training:Science-specific training, seminars and conferences expose teachersto different creative approaches to science teaching rather than theformulaic curriculum that only corrupt the learners mind towards exampreparation (Roden and Archer, 2014). Seminars and training provideknowledge to be used for encouraging young learners to participate inproper academic qualifications rather than vocational qualifications.
Researchis at the center stage of learning and teaching in Primary level toensure boredom is done away with (Skamp, 2007). Teachers engage in itto improve classroom practice, as a contribution to an understandingof the knowledge base of teachers, as a strategy for broader changein the school and as a source of knowledge for teacher professionaldevelopment (LUCE and HSI, 2014). Engaging in research enablesteachers to plan and teach effectively, encouraged collaborationamong teachers, helps them make an informed professional judgment,and it enhances their understanding, knowledge and skills. Researchalso enhances teachers` commitment to work and self-esteem resultingin improved students learning and achievement.
Designinga better curriculum. The national curriculum is usuallyoverprescribed and loaded with content that practically are hard toattain. Time constraints inhibit in-depth teaching and learnersconsolidating on their education (Rose, 2009). There is a need forreduction of the overload and prescribed curriculum and focus onreview of the programmes to translate to greater flexibility. Theseensure that individual needs of the learners are met and thedevelopment of prior learning.
Theintroduction of manageable curriculum without loss of challengebenefits the learners in that they have an entitlement to skills,knowledge, and understanding of the subject through the earlydevelopment (Sharp and Byrne, 2007: 60). The manageable curriculumprovides for a more integrated and simpler framework that focuses onpersonal development. The curriculum is also designed to ensure itsprogression with opportunities that allow the learners to employ theacquired skills confidently in their daily lives.
Cross-curricularstudies. Science focus is essential but inadequate in bringing outskilled and all-round learners (Byrne and Brodie, 2012). Theenthusiasm of science can be maintained by engaging in learningactivities such as Information and Communication Technology,understanding mathematics, communication, and languages,understanding arts and physical development and health. This makesthe interrelation of science and other varied fields and maintain theenthusiasm of science.
Useof Information and Communication Technology. The technologicaldevelopment is as a result of scientific discoveries and they alsoenhance science. Use of ICT complements the practical and theoreticalapproach to science and enhances observation, collection of data, andtesting of ideas through different models and simulations (Cross andBoard, 2015: 55). Web sites that give information on the discoveriesmade, the possible impossibilities and the science projects to engagecontributes to well-versed learners enthusiastic to learn more.
Thereis no science of teaching science. Therefore, a lively, intelligibleand interesting class depends on the teacher`s creativity and ideas(Kelly and Stead, 2013). Making science exciting and fun in theclassroom will involve:
Puttingscience into context. Scientific knowledge presentation appearsimpersonal, dry and detached, forcing the need to contextualize it.For learners to be interested, creatively provide the charactersbehind the theories, facts and formulas to make it feel real. Thealternative theories that are correlating with the subject matterhelp learners attain the different perspectives and understanding ofscience (Ward, 2005).
Makinga fizz by carrying out the chemistry experiments that demonstratecolor and reactions, make the process fun and elicit discussionsamong learners. Experiments that involve ingredients that they arefamiliar with according to age and class help them understand thedifferent concepts of science (Richards and Conner, 1990). Sprinklingscience with amazing facts also get the learners to read the sciencebooks and actively engage in the experiments, include facts andinformation that captures their attention and surprises them
Findingscience in the real life through an exploration of renewable energyand technology, with the fluctuating gas prices, the future of thelearners is at stake, and it is an opportunity to explore thealternative renewable sources of energy that will fuel their future.The solar, plant, electrochemical and wind energy are the alternativesources of energy that can be harvested in a powerhouse created bythe learners. The building of solar dependent oven or water pumpbrings the practical aspect of science.
Learners`participation by making it hands-on- to ensure that learners gainexperience and knowledge, they should observe the processes of anexperiment (Cameron and McKay, 2010). The development process ofplants and the life cycle of the insects fascinate the learners asthey learn. With the learners engage in the planning, carrying outexperiments and investigations aid in their development of scientificknowledge and trigger their ideas to explore the field more.
Practicability.The issues that interest and affect the learners are platforms tonurture scientists. Health issues like the demonstration on thesources and effects of germs generate ideas on keeping healthy(Sherrington, 2002). The weather, the packaging materials, wrappingsand waste material elicit ideas and knowledge on environmental healthand weather studies. The daily life forms part of the scientificexperimentation and understanding. Encouraging the learners to workindependently without assuming the impact and purpose group work helpthe learner develop individual manipulative skills in practicalassignments.
Gettinginvolved: As a teacher, use study guides and reading assignments aswell as talking to them about the concepts makes science fascinating(Whitebread, 2000). The teaching of every concept also inspires thelearners to embrace science and related careers. The teachers shouldbe actively involved in the concept understanding and knowledgeacquisition by the student.
Attitude.The willingness to participate in different projects depend on theteacher`s attitude towards the subject and the comments made on theimprovements and mistakes done. Maintaining an encouraging tone,optimistic sentences and motivating comments keeps the morale of thelearners alive and undeterred with the errors made during thelearning process (Eshach, 2006). The emotional reaction of learnersto the experiments and concepts are to be followed by supportiveactions that will help them embrace science as an interestingsubject. Negativity or discouraging comments push the learners toother alternative courses and the perception of science as difficultstands.
Scienceis a powerful field that has generated knowledge and has addressedcrucial matters in life. However, the field has limits. Science doesnot make moral or aesthetic judgments rather the scientific researchinfluences the decisions made. Science also does not come withinstructions on how to use the scientific knowledge and it neitherdraw conclusions on the supernatural explanations that are beyond therealm of nature. To enable young learners, therefore, grasp theconcept of science knowledge and maintain interest in the same is ahard job but easily done if the teacher has the quality and theabilities to teach science.
Intheir school they experienced a few inspirational science teachingthat included a melting chocolate experiment that showed differentstates of matter in chocolate. This also was a cross curricular topicin literacy descriptive writing , that children had to describe howdifferent chocolate types feels , tastes , smells and how it soundswhile chewing e.g. crunchiness.
Anotherinteresting topic they looked into was moon landing where childrenmade moon buggies , another science experiment was about what plantsneeded in order to grow , in which they used 4 different tomatoplants . One was covered to avoid sunlight and was never watered, onewas covered and watered, and they added some compost manure in oneplus water and covered it too, but the last one they added compostmanure, watered it and kept it in a place with natural light.
Theyhad to see the plants after every 2 days, watering the plants thatwere supposed to be watered.
Atthe end of this experiment children fully understood the topic. It`salways of benefit to their pupils if they could get their hands anddo something practical whilst learning science.
Anothertopic they looked into was parachute making in air resistance topic.They then did an experiment on the parachutes whether they willdescend slowly to the ground, giving their weight a comfortablelanding. When they released the parachute, its weight pulled down onthe strings that held it and it opened up a relatively surface area.the material used to develop the parachute creates air resistance,which is used to slow it down. Thus, the larger the surface area madeby the covering material, the more the air resistance, and, byextension, the slower the speed of the descending parachute.
Cuttinga small hole in the middle of the parachute allowed air to movethrough the parachute slowly, as opposed to spilling out over oneside: this helped the parachute fall in a manner that is morestraight.
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