Science in Schools
I am constantly concerned about the way science is taught in primary schools. In 2007, Network Ed Australia put out a catalogue of science concept kits and result was that most of the sales were for library books! Whilst I am not against selling library books and also there is a great place for reading in context - what happened to the enquiry component and the kits?

As a student at school, science was easy and exciting! I loved learning the knowledge components and also the experiments we performed in the laboratories. At home, I followed my interests with continued reading on all aspects of science. So why are some kids permanently unwired from science? I am not sure of the answer(s) but know that all children are wired to be curious and adventurous and somehow we beat this out of them! Teaching science is all about enquiry - experiments, exploring, discussing and critical thinking! I taught science for 8 years in NSW high schools and there was never an occasion where an experiment could not be used and discussed. Currently, I have heard that teachers are not doing experiments and secondly, they are teaching from a textbook. Why? Well I know the problems with safety and knowledge content required but surely we can find a way?

So what is the answer? The Queensland Science Curriculum for Science is prescriptive and detailed but this does not detract from the enquiry side. The knowledge components including science words and facts can be taught as part of the general discussion and story. For example, astronomy can be taught via a general query to start on Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' - 'There are more stars than sand grains on ALL the beaches on Earth'! Ok so this means they start from where? They need some knowledge to think about this - what are 'stars' , what are 'planets' and what is a 'galaxy' so it slowly builds and the knowledge map unfolds as part of their quest to 'prove' or 'reject' the notion! The children will fill in their own gaps and the discussion will gain in depth and breadth as they grapple with the science words, knowledge and concepts! Your need to cover the knowledge component can come via the list of science words, the knowledge needed, and the eventual writing in context to show comprehension and understanding.

But I dont' know much on astronomy and am not confident! OK! Understood! But see yourself as the 'Scout Leader' and not 'Einstein'! As one teacher rightly said to me you would not have got a 'great breakfast' from Einstein so he did not know everything himself! Set up the map to explore and find out things as you go and then challenge them to help you build the body of knowledge. A few Google searches each night will certainly provide a lot of background briefings for you to be well informed!

So what am I doing now? What is needed is a list of experiments and critical thinking activities which I am currently preparing for each Grade from Prep through to Year 7. Also, we are getting the science equipment kits together so you can do the experiments which we will also supply as part of an integrated 'turn key' solution. Children love making things and the assembly of an experiment by following a sequenced set of instructions is a powerful intellectual skill on its own regardless of the outcome. For a small commercial plug - keep following this link as we are continually building our list from here http://www.network-ed.com.au/primary/science.html Let me know if you need updates by emailing me or leave a comment and I will add you to our primary science newsletter.

Thanks and look forward to your comments,

 

Rob Watts

rob@kbs.com.au