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EDU 111 - Teaching Math & Science to Young Children - Textbook

Chapter 8: Teaching Science Content

8.1: Why Sensory Play is Important for Development

8.1: Why Sensory Play is Important for Development

Copyright © EDUCATIONAL PLAYCARE, LTD. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher.


From birth through to early childhood, children use their senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving and hearing.

Children and even adults learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favorite memories are associated with one or more of our senses: for instance, the smell of a summer night campfire or a song you memorized the lyrics to with a childhood friend. Now, when your nostrils and eardrums are stimulated with those familiar smells and sounds respectively, your brain triggers a flashback memory to those special times.

Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.

This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.

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8.2: Sensory Play: What It's All About

8.2: Sensory Play: What It's All About

"Sensory Play: What It's All About" by Katie Stokes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. See "Terms of Use" for full usage guidelines.


Sensory play is, quite simply, any activity that stimulates the senses. This includes the five main senses of touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound, as well as the two not-as-frequently-mentioned senses: vestibular (sense of balance) and proprioceptive (sense of where each body part is in relation to the rest).

Obviously, just about any activity a child engages in will stimulate at least one or more senses. But some types of play will be more stimulating to the senses than others.

It’s also important to note that an activity that is perfectly stimulating for one child may be under- or over-stimulating for another child. Thus, not all children will gravitate to all sensory activities. While it is perfectly acceptable to encourage your child to try new and even uncomfortable things, it is important not to push the child to do things too far out of his or her comfort zone.

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8.3: Educational Psychology and Science Teaching

8.3: Educational Psychology and Science Teaching

"Educational Psychology and Science Teaching" in Science: An Elementary Teacher’s Guide by Wikibooks contributors for Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.


Some educators draw back from teaching science because they feel unprepared or don't know where to start. They may also feel they do not have the time for science lessons, since science sometimes needs extra explanation, especially during experiments. Some school districts may not have the budget to offer students the lab equipment that they need. Not all educators have a strong background in science, but that does not mean they cannot teach the subject. As with anything else, the more you get involved with a subject the more you will feel confident and ready to teach. Each time you teach a subject, try to learn new things about it yourself as you prepare, and try to think of new ways to present the information or to help the students discover the principles for themselves. The educator is the ultimate role model to children so it is important to show genuine interest in the subject and keep a positive attitude. By doing so it can spark curiosity and increase the joy of learning. You do not need to know all the answers to a question--the willingness to look and explore to find the answers will enhance the learning process. There is not a single way to teach science--every educator has different strengths and weaknesses--but applying learning theories and "best practices" can help you become more effective. Science is universal and can be included in many other subjects including art, music, language arts, math, and more. The main goal of elementary science is to capture the curiosity of young minds, to help them dream of finding new solutions and contributing to society in new ways. Science influences so many aspects of our lives, and the more we learn the more it broadens our perspectives. As educators we have the opportunity to create a base of curiosity, sound thinking, and a scientific framework so our students can become happier and more effective adults.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about your future classroom and how you can impact the thinkers and inventors of the future:

  1. Expand interest in all things by being curious and making discoveries together
  2. Guide and explain basic concepts of science so they can later apply it for future studies
  3. Teach students to look for and discover new answers through experimentation and measurement
  4. Help students develop problem-solving skills
  5. Increase level of science literacy by using scientific language correctly and demonstrating use of critical thinking
  6. Establish a positive relationship between students and promote cooperative problem solving
  7. Do experiments that will interest the students and challenge their understandings
  8. Teach process skills, such as measurement, observation, and presentation of data

 

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8.4: Why Do We Teach Science?

8.4: Why Do We Teach Science?

"Why Do We Teach Science?" by Science as Inquiry is licensed under CC BY 3.0.


Why do we teach science in the first place? This question has always been important, but much of the reform going on in the US today has not addressed the question directly. What one has to do is examine the goals of a particular curriculum or reform report, and then infer what the authors would say if asked, Why do we teach science in first place?

For example, the National Science Board, in its September 2010 report on Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators stated that the development of the Nation’s capital through schooling was an essential building block for the future of innovation.

The report’s authors outline recommendations in three areas including opportunities for excellence, casting a wide net to attract individuals to science, and create an environment that will foster innovation. The rationale for the NSB report is embodied in these two stated rationales:

  • The nation’s economic prosperity, security, and quality of life depends on the identification and development of our next generation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) innovators
     
  • Every student in America should be given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

In their view the economic prosperity of America, and science for all appear to be rationales for teaching science.  As you will see later in this piece, the “economic argument” is only one of several arguments that help us answer the question: Why do we teach science?

 

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8.5: Science - More than Learning Facts and Concepts

8.5: Science - More than Learning Facts and Concepts

Copyright © Melissa Beaudre All rights reserved.


"Science is about more than learning facts and concepts. Sure, these things are an important part of science, but I do not believe that they are enough. Teachers not only provide students with content knowledge, they also provide them with the skills necessary to develop questions. They then take that one step further to promote and develop methods and scientific processes necessary to investigate the answers to those questions. Hands-on and "minds-on" science engages students and not only promotes learning but fosters the wish for students to learn more about science, and perhaps even find a passion within the field. I believe that children learn best by "doing." Teachers must provide children with an opportunity to explore their own interests and passions, as well as building upon the knowledge they have already gained and previous experiences they have had."

 

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8.6: Catch Them Young in Basic Science and Technology Education through Child-to-Child Approach

8.6: Catch Them Young in Basic Science and Technology Education through Child-to-Child Approach

"Catch Them Young in Basic Science and Technology Education through Child-to-Child Approach" in the Journal of Educational and Social Research by Folashade Afolabi is licensed under CC BY 3.0.


If science and technology hold the key to sustainable development in the world and in Africa, this revelation should constitute a beacon to Nigeria as a nation. The corollary is that prominence must be given to science education in Nigerian schools at the early stage. Many researchers in science education have investigated challenges facing advancement in science and technology education in Nigeria and poor enrollment but found out that one of the major reasons is, that the interest of the learners are not sustained at the early stage. Teaching science at basic level could be a challenge. Science and technology teachers teaching young children need to develop a teaching strategy that will facilitate powerful learning experiences which will inspire deeper investigations that will validate and empower children to learn. This paper focuses on Hands-on science activities through child to child approach as essential components of an early childhood setting in basic science and technology education which may help in laying an early foundation for life-long learning and acquisition of science process skills.

 

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8.7: Challenges to Teaching Science in Elementary Schools

8.7: Challenges to Teaching Science in Elementary Schools

"Challenges to Teaching Science in Elementary School" in Science: An Elementary Teacher’s Guide by Wikibooks contributors for Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.


Recently, a class of future teachers were asked what they thought their greatest challenges would be in teaching science. They came up with a great list. Here it is:

 

  • Preparing students for state exams while giving students a positive outlook of science
  • Keeping students on task in the science classroom. Coming up with activities that will spark imagination and fit the curriculum.
  • Change in mindset when moving to a learner-focused teaching method. Changing nature of science based on what is currently known
  • Creating effective rubrics that can be used to assess students in a timely and fair manner.
  • Tailoring class plans, activities, and scientific language for students of different ages and different skills.
  • Increasing pressures on a teacher's “teaching” time, including planning and assessment time. How to fit science into 40 minute periods?
  • Lack of institutional commitment to science. Expense, storage and choice of science materials.

 

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8.8: The Development of Students' Understanding of Science

8.8: The Development of Students' Understanding of Science

"The Development of Students' Understanding of Science" in Frontiers in Education Copyright © 2019 Stella Vosniadou is licensed under CC BY 4.0

The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


Children construct intuitive understandings of the physical world based on their everyday experiences. These intuitive understandings are organized in skeletal conceptual structures known as framework theories. Framework theories are different from currently accepted science and impose constraints on how students understand the scientific explanations of phenomena causing the creation of fragmented or synthetic conceptions. It is argued that in order to understand science students need to make important changes in the way they represent and explain the physical world as well as in their ways of reasoning. During the development of science knowledge students must also create new concepts and new belief systems which do not necessarily supplant their framework theories but co-exist with them. These developments are gradual and slow and follow a learning progression. In order to be effective science education needs to make students aware of their intuitive understandings, provide scientific information gradually and in agreement with students' learning progressions and develop students' reasoning abilities and executive function skills.

 

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8.9: Perceptions of Scientists and Stereotypes through the Eyes of Young School Children

8.9: Perceptions of Scientists and Stereotypes through the Eyes of Young School Children

"Perceptions of Scientists and Stereotypes through the Eyes of Young School Children" in Education Research International by Margareta M. Thomson, Zarifa Zakaria, and Ramona Radut-Taciu, is licensed under CC BY 4.0


Students’ early experiences with science are important for developing not just their STEM literacy, but also in influencing their perceptions of science and the work of scientists. How students understand science and the work of scientists is partly influenced by how this information is presented to them, inside and outside classrooms. Educational research and international reports focus lately on monitoring students’ STEM achievements and career aspirations, as well as the composition of individuals pursuing STEM careers [15]. Research shows that at large, the makeup of STEM workforce is comprised of men; women and individuals identifying with a minority group are underrepresented in most science and technology fields [67]. Identifying children’s perceptions of scientists and their understanding of science is a first step in capturing the stereotypes they have about “who is a scientist,” “who can go into science,” and if they themselves “belong to a science career”. Drawing is a very powerful way of measuring young children’s understanding of the world around them as it reveals their cognitive schemas about how things work, the meaning of relationships, cultural norms, or behaviors. In studies investigating children’s representations of scientists, drawings revealed their beliefs and stereotypes about scientists. Such beliefs can play a central role in shaping students’ science interests and their identification with science careers [8].

The goal of the current study was to examine children’s depictions of scientists from public schools in rural and urban areas in Romania. While research in this area has been conducted systematically in the US for instance, informing education about the early perceptions of scientists and public understanding of science, there are no studies to date examining children’s stereotypes of scientists and domain identification from Romania. Contributions from this study can help understand some of the sociocultural factors that may influence children’s perceptions of scientists and their understanding of science.

 

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8.10: My Second Life as a Teacher

8.10: My Second Life as a Teacher

"My Second Life as a Teacher" in Science by William H. Waller  is licensed under CC BY 4.0.


For most of my educational and professional life, I pursued a fairly standard trajectory. A bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy, a master’s in optical physics, and a Ph.D. in astronomy prepared me for a postdoctoral fellowship and subsequent work as a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. I moved on to a visiting professorship and then a research professorship at Tufts University. I thought I was well on my way to a stable career as an astronomer. Then it stalled, and my second life beckoned.

 

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8.11: Implementation of Cooperative Learning in Science: A Developmental-cum-Experimental Study

8.11: Implementation of Cooperative Learning in Science: A Developmental-cum-Experimental Study

"Implementation of Cooperative Learning in Science: A Developmental-cum-Experimental Study" in Education Research International by Sonam Mehta and A. K. Kulshrestha is licensed under CC BY 3.0.


In the modern era of science and technology, especially, in the realm of information technology, the approach to education has undergone significant changes. The philosophy of education has played a varied but pivotal role in shaping and designing curriculum. Pedagogy in this respect has also undergone major changes in accordance with the need of times. The teaching-learning process has become an issue of rational consideration and of critical query on various fronts, and there have been academic debates on the instructional material being provided to the students of various levels worldwide. The American Psychological Association in its report 2061 [1] validates the importance of innovative teaching methods in science by saying, “Calls for reforms in the ways we teach science at all levels, and in all disciplines are wide spread. The effectiveness of the changes being called for, employment of student-centered, active learning pedagogy, is now well supported by evidence. The relevant data have come from a number of different disciplines that include the learning sciences, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology. There is a growing body of research within specific scientific teaching communities that supports and validates the new approaches to teaching that have been adopted.” The worldwide institutes of repute have conducted surveys, workshops, seminars, and research activities on pedagogy, teaching aids, infrastructure, and newly established theories in education (The Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI), Brock University, Center for Teaching Excellence, Saint Anselm College). These theories, which give rise to methods and techniques of teaching, emphasize on the all-round development of students.

The students should have cooperative tasks in order to make student-student interaction effective for inventions are, actually, the result of the collaborative and cooperative work and not of an individual effort. As far as need for group work is concerned, science is slightly ahead compared to social sciences. A collaborative venture in the community of science, certainly, brings forth new dimensions to enrich and accomplish the classroom teaching of science.

The science today should enable the students to meet the demands and face the challenges ahead in work environment of daily life. Not only knowledge but also communication skills, leadership quality, critical thinking, and listening skills are required to achieve excellence in work. Describing the importance of new teaching methods in science involving group task in contrast to the old textbook recitation method, Association for Advancement of Science report [1, page 148] taking a “future” perspective states “The collaborative nature of scientific and technological work should be strongly reinforced by frequent group activity in the classroom. Scientists and engineers work mostly in groups and less often as isolated investigators. Similarly, students should gain experiences sharing responsibility for learning with each other. In the process of coming to understandings, students in a group must frequently inform each other about procedures and meanings, argue over findings, and assess how the task is progressing. In the context of team responsibility, feedback and communication become more realistic and are of a character very different from the usual individualistic textbook-homework-recitation approach (page 202).”

The education today should enable students to withstand against all oddities and challenges being faced by them at work place of routine encounters. The teaching method should not only serve the academic purpose but also develop social and cooperative skills recommended by educational agencies from time to time. To serve the purpose, among all the teaching methods being followed in the world, the cooperative learning has its own philosophic and psychosocial significance today. In the perspective of interaction, knowledge sharing, analysis, interpretation, and giving vent to subjective expression in group, cooperative learning is considered to be of great utility and wisdom. Following the introduction, the paper introduces cooperative learning and jigsaw strategy giving the contradictory findings and justification of using Jigsaw Technique. The next section deals with the design, sample, and experimental setup of the research followed by hypothesis, method, and development of instructional material and observation schedule. Further, the paper describes the period of implementation in classroom and the result it produces, leading to discussion followed by conclusion. The paper ends with implication in the classroom, limitations, and suggestion for further research.

 

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8.12: Drama-Based Science Teaching and Its Effect on Students’ Understanding of Scientific Concepts and Their Attitudes towards Science Learning

8.12: Drama-Based Science Teaching and Its Effect on Students’ Understanding of Scientific Concepts and Their Attitudes towards Science Learning

"Drama-Based Science Teaching and Its Effect on Students’ Understanding of Scientific Concepts and Their Attitudes towards Science Learning"  in International Education Studies by Osama Abed is licensed under CC BY 4.0


This study investigated the effect of drama-based science teaching on students’ understanding of scientific concepts and their attitudes towards science learning. The study also aimed to examine if there is an interaction between students’ achievement level in science and drama-based instruction. The sample consisted of (87) of 7th grade students from a public male school in Amman-Jordan; (46) in the experimental group and (41) in the control group. A pre-post Scientific Concepts Test (SCT) and Attitudes towards Science Learning Scale (ATSLS) were administered. The results indicate that there were statistically significant differences between the study groups in favour of students in the experimental group on both study variables, with no interaction between the teaching method and the students’ achievement level in science. The study recommends employing drama in teaching science.

 

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8.13: Discovery Kids Preschool Program - An Insect Lesson

8.13: Discovery Kids Preschool Program - An Insect Lesson

Copyright © 2017 Cordova Recreation and Park District.


"Participants in Ms. Alisha's class learned about insects today and got to play with bug slime (cornstarch and colored water). They also made their own bug and painted work tracks on paper."

 

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8.14: Early Childhood Science and Engineering: Engaging Platforms for Fostering Domain-General Learning Skills

8.14: Early Childhood Science and Engineering: Engaging Platforms for Fostering Domain-General Learning Skills

"Early Childhood Science and Engineering: Engaging Platforms for Fostering Domain-General Learning Skills" in Education Sciences by Andres S. Bustamante, Daryl B. Greenfield, and Irena Nayfeld is licensed under CC BY 4.0.


Early childhood science and engineering education offer a prime context to foster approaches-to-learning (ATL) and executive functioning (EF) by eliciting children’s natural curiosity about the world, providing a unique opportunity to engage children in hands-on learning experiences that promote critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, persistence, and other adaptive domain-general learning skills. Indeed, in any science experiment or engineering problem, children make observations, engage in collaborative conversations with teachers and peers, and think flexibly to come up with predictions or potential solutions to their problem. Inherent to science and engineering is the idea that one learns from initial failures within an iterative trial-and-error process where children practice risk-taking, persistence, tolerance for frustration, and sustaining focus. Unfortunately, science and engineering instruction is typically absent from early childhood classrooms, and particularly so in programs that serve children from low-income families. However, our early science and engineering intervention research shows teachers how to build science and engineering instruction into activities that are already happening in their classrooms, which boosts their confidence and removes some of the stigma around science and engineering. In this paper, we discuss the promise of research that uses early childhood science and engineering experiences as engaging, hands-on, interactive platforms to instill ATL and EF in young children living below the poverty line. We propose that early childhood science and engineering offer a central theme that captures children’s attention and allows for integrated instruction across domain-general (ATL, EF, and social–emotional) and domain-specific (e.g., language, literacy, mathematics, and science) content, allowing for contextualized experiences that make learning more meaningful and captivating for children.

 

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