When it comes to educating kids, it’s my belief that it’s far more effective getting them genuinely interested in the subject, rather than forcing them to memorise facts without ever actually trying to make it interesting. But how do you get kids interested in learning (science in particular)? That’s a question I wanted to pose to different teachers and parents with the hope of creating a useful resource on this topic, full of actionable, practical advice. That’s why I put out this simple query on the journalism sites I belong to:
For teachers and parents, how do you get kids interested in science and actually want to learn? Any comments welcome.
I also spent many hours manually reaching out to some great people who I thought could give input on this topic, and heard from a couple of them. The below are all the comments I got on this topic that I think are worth reading. Have a read through them 🙂
Hands-on learning is what makes science fun for kids, and your encouragement can help nurture their natural curiosity into a love for scientific discovery. Kids can learn about nature right in their own backyards by seeking and closely examining bugs and other critters, and you can help them research online to identify and learn about the animals they find. There are also many easy science experiments that you can perform at home with basic ingredients you might already have on hand. Kids can watch rock candy crystallize or learn about density by creating their own oil and water lava lamp. These fun hands-on experiments captivate kids and provide a great opportunity to discuss scientific principles in an accessible way.
--Alexandra Fung, Upparent.com
An underutilized resource for stimulating a child's interest in science is to be found in films. Over the decades, Hollywood –along with other movie producers – have, generally via biographies of great people have created some superb films covering important issues in science. Among these are The Imitation Game, Cosmos, The Martian, Temple Grandin, Arrival and Hidden Figures. To achieve their potential, the films do require that parents do a bit of structuring. It’s important that they view the film first so that they are prepared to answer questions that might come up. It’s also useful to watch the film in segments that are shown over a period of days. That allows for more discussion about different issues raised over the course of a full-length film. It is well worth the effort--both in terms of supporting a child's understanding of science and in offering an experience that is appealing to the entire family.
--Marion Blank, readingkingdom.com
I offer at least two free science classes to kids every weekday, have been doing so for 6 weeks. I get kids interested in learning science by:
- asking lots of questions, today we learned about how animals adapt in winter, so I started by asking what do you do when it's really cold outside?
- allow for students to express their interest by encouraging questions, this sparks more and more curiosity, example: do all squirrels hibernate since you just mentioned that the arctic ground squirrel does?
- drawing together, there is something really special about engaging with something super scientific in art form
- movement, today we flapped our arms if the animal adapts to winter by migrating vs we hugged ourselves if the animal adapts to winter by hibernating or burrowing
Science is fundamentally about discovering the mechanisms that govern our reality. One of the main driving forces behind science is curiosity! And that's something kids have in abundance.
The reason scientists such as Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are so appealing to audiences is that they share their own curiosity with us. You can get your kid interested in science by showing them experiments that prove what the current subject is. Showing proof is what science is all about, after all.
If you're studying parabolic motion, take a moment to play basketball. If you're studying states of matter, put some ice cubes in a frying pan and watch them become water and steam. Make sure to relate the examples to the current curriculum, and remember that curiosity is contagious!
--Rafael Parra, Homeschool Spanish Academy
One of the best way to get kids interested in science is by engaging them in fun and interesting science experiments. There is literally no end to the variety of science experiments your child can enjoy, from rock candy to magnetic slime to the fascinating world of a classroom aquaponics. Find a hands-on activity your child can enjoy and watch their eyes light up with the wonders of science.
--Charlene Hess, Hess Un-Academy
Depending on the type of science, it can be challenging to get kids interested in science since it can be very boring for them. At our house, we love animals and one way to get the kids to approach marine science is to bring the experience to our living room so they can learn using virtual reality.
We recently got theBlu for our home VR system, which essentially brings marine animals to life right in front of your eyes. The kids like to spend hours exploring the vast ocean, as jellyfish and dolphins swim by. theBlu is one of the best immersive virtual reality experiences I have ever seen, and the kids also find it fascinating. It's great because they are able to experience the deep ocean without any safety risks or hazards.
Nowadays are much more responsive to visual stimulation than reading books, and VR is an awesome way to pique their interest in science by making it fun. They can ask questions about the animals, peacefully explore the corals in all their wonder, and enjoy learning about marine biology. Whether they choose to pursue a career in the environmental sciences is entirely up to them, but we can always nudge them a bit in the right direction!
--Casper Ohm, Water-Pollution
First, if you have a science center/museum nearby, take them. Go later in the day if there are school groups earlier in the day. The pandemonium of hundreds of kids in the building without one-on-one supervision is overwhelming and turns a learning experience into just a play-date. Help your kid to understand what is being taught by each exhibit. Don't attempt to see every exhibit in the building. Go for hands-on exhibits. Let them be kids, but steer them a bit and try to come away with a better view of what interests your kid. Visit the gift shop, if available, and reward them with a take-home book, kit, etc to extend the experience.
Second, do your research and discover the science kit programs that send your kid a monthly project. Even in this electronic age, kids like to get mail/packages addressed just to them. Use the Internet to expand each month's hands-on, reach-out-and-touch experience. Encourage the kid to go beyond what each kit provides.
Above all, make science real to them, not just a textbook exercise. Help them to see science in everyday experiences. Show them the utility of science in everyday life. Ask them questions and respect their opinions.
Kids can get lost when your explanations are too abstract and when they can't see the immediate phenomenon in action. Because of that, I always thought that a practical approach was the best when introducing kinds to basic scientific principles.
This is where small scale projects and DIY tasks can prove to be really useful for introducing kids to the basics. For example, building a model house can be used as an opportunity to introduce children to basic physics and Newton laws, and give them also a practical side of things where they'll have fun and learn something new.
Also, having kids learn by experimenting and building will, in my opinion, help kids develop analytical skills, as well as the ability to improvise and understand core concepts on a practical level.
--Bryan Stoddard, Homewares Insider
During this unique time it is especially important to recognize kids have recently lost so much. They were the authority on school and now they have to return to giving control back to their parents and this can be challenging. I recommend that parents review topics and material the kids have already mastered to help them feel confident about their ability to learn new material. It is also important to get kids off the computer and back to moving around the home or neighborhood and working with their hands. Watch a video about the subject then go for a walk looking for a local demonstration of what you are learning. The internet is a great resource and so many teachers and individuals are providing amazing electronic resources, experiments, videos, activities. Make sure to give time for kids to disengage from the zoom meeting, or a text book, and experience the subject matter in a way to make it memorable, fun, and real.
--Mandi Biesinger, askdrstephanie.com
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