Three Ways to Make Science Fun and Exciting!
Science is all around us, all the time. From the sage words of Carl Sagan, who spoke at my graduation ceremony at graduate school, to seeing images from Mars, to beginning to understand how the prefrontal cortex of our brain can impact the limbic area of our brain. Science can be fascinating… or it can be unbelievably boring if delivered in non-relevant ways. Unfortunately for me, during high school, science was not taught in a way that made it come to life. Fortunately, it did come to life later for me with some PBS shows and with some of my mentors, such as Dr. Carroll Rinehart and Dr. John “Jack” Hughes.
In my work with young children, and older students, and even adults, I have found ways to make scientific thinking and process become relevant and exciting. Here are three things I have done over the past 18 years. I hope you can use these in your ongoing work with your students.
OBSERVING GAMES (Identification)
Ask your students to go a treasure hunt. You can and should change how you describe it based on the age and interests of your students. You could call it a scavenger hunt, a world discovery tour, a grocery list of idea, etc. Have fun with it!
On this treasure hunt, your students would be looking for things they have never observed and/or noticed before? Depending on age of your students, you can list out on a board the things they come up with, and/or you can have your students make a list of what they find.
Next I have students talk about and/or write about why they had never noticed this thing before.
Next I have students talk about and/or write about why this thing exists.
Note: this game should start our simply and over time grow in complexity, based on the students initiative. Try playing this game once or twice per week at most, to keep it fresh. Also, extend the game by having students observe things outside the classroom over the weekend or in the evenings at home. They can also begin to observe and notice different behaviors people exhibit based on their environment and who is in their space.
RESPONDING GAMES (Hypothesis)
Based on the list of things your students observed and noticed, have them pick several of the most interesting things. Don’t be in a hurry to get to this step. Take your time with the observation games so your students have a lot of things to choose from.
Ask your students to describe one of the most interesting things they observed in a nonverbal way. This could include using an Art form like visual art, dance, music or acting. It could include writing. It could even include charades! The key here is that it be non-verbal. This is so your students can practice responding internally BEFORE reacting externally.
REACTING GAMES (Experiment)
Based on the nonverbal responses, find a creative and empowering way to form groups.
Ask your students to share with each other, in verbal ways, what they found interesting about what others observed and the responses of their fellow students.
You can extend this by having the groups create a group reaction which could be verbal and/or non verbal.
You can also extend this further by asking students to take on the response of others and create a new reaction to what was observed.
Have fun fostering the next generation of thinkers and creators!