How many of you remember Bill Nye, the Science Guy? That show was genius. It took very real questions children (or adults) might have about the world, and explained scientific concepts in a completely enjoyable and palatable way. It reminds me that science is not just for the elite or academically gifted. Science is for all; we all live in this natural world and we all need to navigate it. Some things from Bill Nye I remember still, but unfortunately, I can’t remember a lot from my college physics class. Science is a fascinating field; it brings creativity and exploration together with logic and critical thinking. It can open up the world to a child, setting them on a path of life-long learning by honing their innate curiosity. I believe science should be accessible and enjoyable for all students.
I liked science all through middle and high school, but I was disappointed when my courses started to revolve around lectures and passive learning. I began to feel disengaged from the professors and the content of my courses, and I missed the interaction of science courses. Although I learned how to do well in the passive-learning environment, it was definitely not as rewarding or interesting.
Here are some things I realized about what worked for me as a science student:
1. Puzzles are generally interesting, and if they are applicable to the real world, the lessons you learn along the way will stick with you.
2. It is important to feel like you have a voice in the classroom and that people will listen and respect what you have to say.
3. Lectures and note-taking might help you pass the test tomorrow, but if it is not connected to something else, you will most likely forget it after the test.
4. In-class exploration and demonstrations can elucidate an abstract concept and bring theory, ideas, and formulas alive.
5. Cookie-cutter labs are annoying, boring, and can feel pointless. Labs should answer a question and feel like a positive challenge.
How do I want to change science education and the world?
I believe that science should be much more engaging in schools than it is currently. I like the idea of taking the time during class to DO things rather than just take notes. It would be great to move away from the model of teacher as just the “expert” to a more collaborative approach. That is more like real science anyway, and I think students would benefit. Science should be fun.
As a science educator, I hope to facilitate students’ personal growth by encouraging them to experiment, take risks, build their confidence, and develop their reasoning and communication skills. I am really grateful for all the great teachers I had, and I hope to make a difference in students’ lives in the near future. Rather than science knowledge seeming “pointless” to students, I would like to help students realize how relatable and interesting science is to their lives- like Bill Nye!