The look of fascination on a student’s face motivates a teacher like nothing else. Science, a subject filled with facts and experiments, opens a window into the world for a student inside a classroom. From minute subatomic particles to the vast expanse of space, the body of scientific work captivates our minds. Unfortunately, it becomes an enormous source of stress around exam time. Science is often taught poorly, making students loathe learning the subject. In India, rote learning is so widespread that students think that it is only about memorising chemical formulae and the three laws of physics. But science includes human inventions that are so central to our lives today – the internet, transport, electricity, cooking, and most recently, safeguarding against disease. It is thus vital to shift its perception as a “difficult” subject to one full of wonder and real-world relevance. Here are five strategies teachers can use –
- Use of Animated and Multimedia Content
The internet is a repository of content – from animations to games and videos, there is no dearth of exciting content for students. Science can be boring if one relies on rote learning, but that can be easily flipped by showing rather than telling a student how science works its magic, so to speak. Research shows that multisensory content activates different parts of the brain and body to keep a student, otherwise daydreaming, engaged.
- Experimentation and Field Trips
“Lab days” are the most fun days for any science student. A learner gets to see, first-hand, how science works. Whether it is a basic litmus test in the chemistry lab or an experiment of the laws of gravity in an open field or museums, these are the moments that stay in the learner’s mind. And higher retention will automatically lead to greater interest and augmented learning outcomes. In today’s times, where physical schooling is a matter of luxury, virtual experiments are becoming more popular. Experimentation is proven to foster curiosity and subliminally teach students the scientific method of analysis that can be applied to any field later in life.
- Encourage Questions
For some children, the best way of learning is to question the material before them. Encourage your students to demand explanations, not take the material at face value, and constantly think of the “why” and the “how” in any science class. Teachers should encourage students to find out how each concept or topic is relevant to them and how it influences their lives or those around them. It will make students realise the pervasiveness of science in everything around us.
- Practice, Practice, Practice!
Students need to master their skills before moving on to the next thing. Each concept must be crystal clear before they can proceed. Technology makes this very easy. Practice engines based on AI/ML in personalised learning apps continuously generate questions or assessments for students, allowing them to develop mastery of a topic. If a student finds it difficult, she should be allowed to backpropagate to more foundational concepts so that her learning doesn’t have gaps. Most students do not learn at the same pace, especially for a subject like science. AI-enabled learning in science makes sure that each learner can have her individualized journey, where she may proceed at her own pace and preference.
- Let Students Teach Each Other
The value of peer-to-peer instruction is underrated. When a student or a group of students is allowed to present their research or understanding before the class, the other students are more likely to get involved and take a keen interest. It also allows the teacher to understand any conceptual gaps that her students may be facing. Assigning projects like building an erupting volcano, growing a plant, or producing electricity from vegetables makes students keen to learn, giving them the agency of their learning.
In the true scientific spirit, experiment with your teaching methods to make classrooms an energetic space where students are excited to learn.