If You Only Listened To Me…… Science could have been fun, and quick and easy science fair projects could have made the difference!
There is a big push in education today on boosting math and science curriculum in our schools in the United States. It is a big wake up call for this country as the stats show that we are falling behind many other countries. the president has made this an important issue as well. I keep saying, if you only listened to me , we wouldn’t be in this mess!
Recently I have become more tuned in to the science side of education and the benefit of quick and easy science fair projects. Do not get me wrong, as a teacher and then as a parent I was actively involved in science. In fact it was the Science Fairs at my school in my first years of teaching that first sparked my interest and when I realized if they had just listened to me as a student and in the years since then there would not be this big problem today.
When I was growing up, Science was the most hated subject on Earth, and I kid you not. We had big heavy text books, we had to outline chapters and answer questions at the end of the chapter. Every once and awhile we did something fun, like draw the solar system, or plant beans in a glass with brown paper towels and collect rocks and leaves. My grades on science tests were generally poor which made me hate the class even more. There was no connection between science and every day life.
At the same time, my parents were good at giving us those fun experiences, we cooked, we planted gardens, we went to museums and when we got involved in Scouts it went even further with all the fun activities you did for badges. Any time I would say, “This is fun,” my parents would sigh and say, “Darling, this is science.” Then I would ask why they could not make science in school as fun. If they had only listened to me…..
It really was not until High School Chemistry I lucked out and had a great teacher, who saw me as a challenge to see my grades could be as good in his class as they were every where else. In fact he tried to do that with all the students and had a way of teaching the abstract and showing how the effect on every day life. Now I am not saying high school chemistry should be all fun and games and full of fun activities, but I am saying with a better foundation, you could hit that class and it would not have to be as stressful as it is for most kids. At least your attitude would be better.
When I saw my first Science Fair at my school as a teacher, I kept saying why don’t all schools do this? Each kid had their own project, most would fall into the quick and easy science fair projects category as they were doing a lot of this on their own, and the Reading Teachers ( that would be me) helped their students with the write ups, posters and set up. Our school was a multi-sensory education pioneer back in the day, so it was second nature to us. I learned more “science” from helping these students than I ever did in school. If they had only listened to me…
Now, here is where it gets tricky and I am still shaking my head. Where we lived it happened that they changed the science curriculum to a more hands on, no formal textbook just as our eldest child hit first grade. At that point I was thinking, Wow! They DID listen to me. There were many quick and easy science fair projects done throughout the year, that taught science and also the scientific method. But guess what? That was 25 years ago, and we are still suffering from a lag in science knowledge and background. For my kids there was a definite line of demarcation when they hit middle school. They tried to make it hands on but the textbooks, tests and traditional science teaching snuck back in. By the time you hit high school you either were a science geek and took the advanced classes or just took what you needed to graduate.
I do not know what the answer is, these are just my random thoughts, but I have been saying for years the disconnect comes between science and real life. The more you see and use science in your life, and KNOW that is what you are doing, the better off you should be. Solar and wind power, ecology, gardening, automobile engines and cooking are all science and part of what we do each day. Don’t even get me started on how important the human body is in both science and in real life and the number of kids who do not get it!