March 31

Science and Inquiry- Hands-on Lessons…

When I was a student, science wasn’t my favorite topic. Actually I HATED it!! It was boring, complicated, and I thought it was something I wasn’t really good at!! Mostly, it was a subject that was lectured by my teachers and then, guess what?? We got a worksheet to fill out!! I retained nothing of what I learned in elementary science. In elementary school I have absolutely NO memories of a teacher conducting hands-on experiments in any of my classes. That is something that disturbs me on many levels… the first being that perhaps I’m developing dementia.

Could it truly be possible that I do not remember anything from elementary school? That can’t be it!! I have other memories of my years in grades K-5th…like playing the recorder and the clarinet, dancing on stage (and getting ALL the steps wrong!!), reading books, writing, playing on the playground, and I can even remember where every classroom was located, the layout of the cafeteria, the clinic, and the courtyard! Which brings me to my second disturbing revelation… I could have been a doctor!! I thought I was never smart enough in science but that wasn’t it at all; it was due to a lack of exposure.

I hadn’t had the experiences that drew me in and sparked my curiosity (which later developed into a passion) by my teachers lecture style format to deliver the information. Had I experienced the process of INQUIRY and the use of hands-on ACTIVITIES, my life would be completely different today. 

 After I became a bit more “seasoned” as a classroom teacher, I made sure that I incorporated as many inquiry-based activities as possible. I don’t want to rob children of any experiences that will develop them into the future scientists and mathematicians that they may possibly be. I had written numerous grants to allow for the purchase of materials, I asked local businesses for donations, parents purchased lab coats and eye protection. Students would put on their lab coats and they truly felt like scientists- it is such a wonderful feeling to know you are changing the ways in which students see topics such as science and to have girls fascinated by insects, and looking through microscopes at the wing of a fly and not screaming “GROSS!” It’s pure joy and love!!

I know that I may not make tons of money and I never did become a doctor but the world does work out the way it should- because I’m fulfilled in my work and making a difference everyday! So even though I might have been cheated out of a great science education- at least it lead to a greater good in the end…. (a lesson learned!!)

 I will be posting some books that you can actually download and look at that have AWESOME Science activities, as well as links to sites that provide standards-based lessons! 

ONE MORE THING: If you are not a member of NSTA- National Science Teachers Association- I highly recommend that you become a member and support all your fellow colleagues. Joining NSTA was one of the best decisions I made as a teacher and I’ve been a member for many years!!     

Here’s the link if you would like more information on NSTA- just go to their website- a lot of their resources are free to teachers….NSTA