Teaching Strategies for Elementary Science

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  • 0:03 Making Science Fun
  • 1:38 Group Work
  • 2:48 Utilizing the Internet…
  • 4:01 STEM & Elementary Students
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we discuss various strategies for teaching science in elementary school, including the concept of cooperative learning and the importance of the STEM program.

Making Science Fun

Do you remember science class and some of those fun experiments we used to try? Which ones did you attempt? A great science teacher can be the difference between whether students are bored or look forward to coming to class each day.

Many science teachers believe that the ideal way for students K-6 to learn science is to be actively involved in what they call the hands-on approach, or experiential learning. Here, students perform experiments in an active learning style, both in the laboratory and out in the field. Students should also be encouraged to observe and to communicate with the teacher and fellow classmates. These two types of learning can supplement passive learning, in which the teacher lectures while the students sit and take notes.

As a matter of fact, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) itself recommends that what it calls inquiry science, which is studying the natural world and proposing diverse theories based on collected evidence, be taught on a daily basis in all grade levels. It makes sense, doesn't it? After all, the world is becoming increasingly technological and science-oriented, and inquiry science allows children to enhance their problem-solving skills.

Further, did you ever have a positive teacher who said that no question is too silly to ask? In addition to encouraging students to conduct science experiments, it's also beneficial to get students to be curious and ask as many questions (inquire) as possible. This has the added benefit of creating an interaction between you and the students, as opposed to you just lecturing them while they sit there, possibly allowing their minds to wander.

Group Work

In the real world, scientists sometimes work alone, but often they work side-by-side and in groups with coworkers. Therefore, it is of tantamount importance that elementary students are taught the skills of group work early on. These concepts include:

  • Cooperative learning: Students are placed together, usually in small groups, and must work in unison to achieve their goals. Thus, the success of the group will determine the success of the individual. This can be beneficial because a student may learn from another student, but can be detrimental because a student may be penalized for another student's less than average performance.

  • Gallery walks: Various stations are set up around the room or hallways, and groups take turn switching between the stations. Groups can even post comments, and then other groups can post replies or arguments to the contrary. Finally, the students can meet back up as one big group and debate the findings as the teacher plays the role of moderator.

  • Jigsaws: Students prepare assignments that are related to one another, but while working in separate groups. Once again, the students meet up as one big group, and put together the pieces of the scientific puzzle.

Utilizing the Internet & Television

Students spend much of their time staring at their phones and handheld devices. Why not incorporate them into the science curricula to make learning more productive and entertaining at the same time?

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