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Acknowledging Science Outside of the Classroom

I’ve always believed that no student is “bad” at science.  This feeling only comes with time, after a child has been led to believe that science is a scary subject with too large of words and little connection to their daily lives.  The truth is quite the opposite though.  Science permeates our entire world, and our entire lives.  Science is a subject that should be accessible to all ages and abilities, because it is merely a vehicle that guides curiosity.

All it takes for a student to be “good” at science is a few simple things:  curiosity, a willingness to ask questions, the perseverance to search for answers, and the willingness to get up and try again should you fail.  These are skills that overlap into other subject areas beyond science, and help to cultivate a “growth mindset” that can lead to success in all aspects of life.

How to Create a Science Attitude at Home

It doesn’t take a PhD to help foster an interest in science into your students’ lives.  Some of my fondest, earliest, memories of being interested in science came from family outings and guidance from my parents.  Neither one of my parents have any formal science backgrounds, and only one of them went on to college.  But, they taught me to ask questions and brought to my attention random observations of the world around me.  Simple things like pointing out what the clouds looked like during different types of weather, or searching our backyard for bugs, lizards, or any other wildlife.  As I grew older, we would stay up to watch an eclipse or meteor shower, and imagine what new discoveries might be waiting somewhere in the vast night sky.  We didn’t have a telescope or fancy science equipment, or any immediate answers to things we might speculate about the world.  It was about letting ourselves be curious, and knowing that we might have to be patient before having an answer.


Ways to Show Science All Around You

If you’re not sure where to start with finding science in your daily life, the easiest thing would be to just demonstrate your own curiosity about the world in front of your student.  Speculate about why something happens: What is happening to ingredients while cooking? Why does a plant grow well in one location but not another?


You do not need to know the answers, nor do you need to immediately look them up online.  Take the time to let your mind try to form it’s own answer, and encourage your student to do the same.  Be willing to ask hard questions, and show that it’s okay to work hard before knowing the answer.


Quick and Easy Ideas for Starting to Explore Science on Your Own:

  • This week (September 22nd) is the Autumn Equinox, when we have equal hours of daylight and nighttime (12 hours).  Take some time to discuss why this happens, or why this triggers changes in animal habits and changing seasons.
  • Watch for leaves to change color, and any other changes in animals or plants.
  • As our nights become longer start paying attention to the night sky and discuss changes in the appearance of the moon, or position of the stars.

Helping your student notice these things, and encouraging an interest in finding answers, can help to instill a positive attitude towards science to last the rest of their lives.

By Christine Sills
Science Teacher, Park Academy

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