Making good science takes time and so does teaching good science. When learning science, students need time to analyze, apply, reconfigure, and reflect on their investigations, just like scientists do. For this reason, setting time for science inquiry is fundamental to a successful science education.
Science content is loosing protagonism in school’s curricula all over the world. The time dedicated to learning science is diminishing every year, and more often than not, teachers, pressed by time, focus on the scientific facts instead of the scientific process. Teaching big amounts of facts and addressing as many subjects as possible, rather them focusing in the inquire process, has become the rule in science classes.
A recent report from the US National Center on Time & Learning discusses the importance of increasing the number of hours per week dedicated to science investigations. According to this report, science has been edged out as a priority due to more focus on math and english (this study applies to the US, but the same trend is happening in other countries, namely in Europe), and that leads to a poor science education. “Students must learn not just scientific content but also about scientific process,” the authors of the study remind us. To achieve this, teachers need to expand students’ scientific knowledge and engagement over time as they examine objects, design and analyze investigations, collect data and discuss ideas.
So, when planning the weekly activities for your classes, set some time aside, at least twice a week, to conduct scientific investigations with your students. Take the time to walk them through the scientific process to show them how science works. If possible, develop ongoing activities over a few sessions; this is a good strategy to keep students attentive and engaged.
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