Many students make it to 5th grade and haven’t had the chance to do many hands-on experiments .
Whether it is due to focus on math/reading to pass standardized test scores, lack of effort/knowlege to teach science using hands-on techniques, to limited time; I think this is a major missed opportunity for students and teachers.
Teaching science and letting students experiment can have a drastic effect on your classroom in many different ways that I don’t think a lot of teachers realize. There are also ways to incorporate it even when there doesn’t seem to be any time. Here are a few benefits that come to mind that I use successfully:
1. Students truly love hands-on science. There isn’t another subject during the day that they are as genuinely excited about learning and want to do everyday. In fact, they would be very upset if we skipped it.
2. When students want to do something that badly, behavior problems seem to eliminate themselves. I can’t remember a time this year when we’ve had problems during science lessons. They don’t want to miss out.
3. A single science lesson can be intergated to all other lessons during the day. Having trouble exciting children to write? Give them the freedom to do persuasive, informational, and narrative writing about the topics you are learning about in science. Read about science topics. Incorporate math lessons into your science time. There doesn’t need to be a set science time when it stops and starts. The whole day could be one big science lesson and you would still cover all the other subjects.
4. It is a subject that allows peer interaction and team work to be successful. It will teach different lifeskills and character traits.
5. Students will want to come to school each day and will bug you to death about what they are learning that day!
6. Students will desire homework.
Yes, it takes time to set up experiments and labs. But it is worth it and doesn’t take away from learning other subjects. In fact, it enhances them! So if you want your class to be better behaved, work well together, stay focused on their learning, become better in reading, writing & math, become excited about learning, actually want to do homework, and make your job a lot more fun- include more science in your school day :)