Students who have a personal interest in a lesson’s subject matter are more likely to be engaged in class. This self-motivated engagement leads to higher performance and advanced skill development. However, many teachers struggle with getting their students to take an interest in science and mathematics courses. Female student populations seem particularly affected, as upper-level science classrooms appear to be more and more male-dominated. This has resulted in a severe achievement gap that is even reflected in the workforce. In order to get all students more interested in pursuing a career in math or science, it is important to foster positive attitudes toward those fields beginning in early childhood education.
Science is, at its core, an investigation of the natural world and the laws that govern it. As such, demonstrations of the natural laws and theories that you are teaching about in class should be central to any science instruction. Children are very hands-on in their everyday lives. In fact, it is their willingness to explore and get their hands dirty that often gets them in trouble. Leverage the natural curiosity of your students through hands-on activities that demonstrate scientific principles.
Reframe the Discussion
Students are more interested in the discovery of new things through doing, rather than reading. For this reason, it is often helpful to focus the discussion in a science classroom on actually doing experiments rather than reading about work that scientists did in the past. Make science more active by recreating some of those experiments and guiding students to their own conclusions. These educational strategies change how students perceive science by showing them the results of their work rather than just telling them what the results should be.
Ultimately, the best way to influence student attitudes about science is to make it immediate and present. Bring the experiments out of the textbooks and into the classroom to demonstrate the ways in which scientists explore the natural world around them. If nothing else, this will show students how to think like a scientist, examining natural phenomena with an analytic eye.
Even classrooms with limited budgets can work to make science more alive. When there aren’t enough supplies for every student, teacher demonstrations can work just as well. By changing the perceptions of science class, teachers can inspire the next generation of leaders in the field.