Boys and girls are born scientists. They are curious about nature and do science since birth. They watch and play with their hands and feet, with blankets and toys, and with just about anything around. They look, manipulate, move, throw, and chase things around.
However, it has been reported that as they move from primary to secondary education, students lose interest in science, especially girls.
In an educational context, scientific literacy can be understood as the process of asking questions about the natural world, generating hypotheses, planning a strategy, and collecting and analyzing data to answer the question.
Are we facing a scientific future?
If we were to describe a scientific boy or girl, they would present the following characteristics:
He is eager to explore his surroundings and interested in learning about it.
He is attentive.
Their play involves sorting and classifying objects according to criteria such as color, shape, size…
Look for causal relationships to phenomena in your environment.
He is interested in scientific data such as the size of dinosaurs or the speed of airplanes.
He is interested in manipulation and experimentation.
It is capable of extracting patterns from the data.
You are concerned about the challenges facing society.
Justify your explanations.
He is creative and capable of innovation.
Richard Feynman, one of the most important physicists of the 20th century, recalls interesting conversations and discussions with his father about the reasons for certain behaviors of birds, the inertia of toy wagons, the height of dinosaurs, etc.
As he explained, “At the time I thought all parents were like that. It inspired me for life. Even today I look like a child to the wonders I know I can find in science.” going to “.
When Isidor Rabi, Nobel Prize in Physics, was asked what helped him become a scientist, he replied:
As soon as he left school, all the other Jewish mothers in Brooklyn would ask their children what they had learned in school that day. Instead, my mom would say, “Izzie, have you asked yourself any good questions today?”
Tips to Help and Encourage
Promote curiosity. Bring them closer to finding out what they are made of and how things around us work by manipulating different materials.
Prepare questions. To focus their attention on the details of the world around them and encourage them to look for an explanation. It is sometimes believed that it is sufficient to confront children with surprising experiences that arouse their curiosity, but which are not explored in depth because their cognitive abilities do not allow them to understand the phenomena involved. Is. If it is accepted that this is not the case, but that it is only a starting point, we will find that children’s interest in issues of nature is very high.
Let them try. Promoting their autonomy in seeking solutions to problems is no easy task as it requires a lot of patience, but it is an important point in giving them the opportunity to construct their own knowledge that will allow them to understand the real world. and helps to function. Constructive questions during the process by adults can help and serve for children to build their own knowledge. It is not necessary to give correct answers, children do not expect them.
Don’t expect them to memorize scientific concepts and principles. It is about doing more than receiving. Observe, formulate hypotheses, find connections between facts, ideas or cause and effects, argue… In short, it is more interesting to understand than to remember.
Use play and imagination. It is good to propose daily challenges or problems so that they try to solve them.
Visit science museums. Over the years, science museums have incorporated new interactive features, activities, and resources that actively encourage children to explore and better understand their materials.
Visit natural places. Playing in and with nature, manipulating natural elements, observing natural phenomena, experimenting with it all.
Create science context at home. Plant a seed, watch how the plant grows and what it needs. Make a paper helicopter and modify its design so that it can fly far. Observe the birds visiting the garden and record their behavior in a diary. Make a sponge cake and wonder why bubbles appear inside…
At the institutional level, there are interesting initiatives such as the STEAM strategy to promote S&T education and training, which also pay special attention to female students to reduce the gender gap that exists in this field.
Within the framework of Science Week, usually held at European level in November, most cities hold a wide range of scientific activities in various formats available to all.
With regard to extracurricular activities, the most successful choices in the sciences are those related to robotics and programming, technology, and engineering. But, although less successful, more and more science workshops are offered that propose practical activities of experimentation, investigation, and observation.
In addition, there are a number of schools committed to the Nordic-origin forest school method, based on outdoor education using natural resources. It would be desirable to offer extra-curricular courses based on this methodology.
Classes or guided activities feed not only the scientific spirit. Those that are evocative in nature, although they are not focused on scientific practice, allow to arouse curiosity and interest in science.
We refer to free time groups or sports excursions in contact with nature, such as surfing, snorkeling, mountaineering, hiking, horse riding, climbing …
By paying a little attention to the curiosity and interest they show, it is possible to see if this innocuous attitude could turn into a lifelong business.
Teresa Zamaloa Echevarría, Associate Professor in the Theory of Applied Science, Universidad del País Vasco / University of the Basque Country and Ainara Achurra, associate professor of education, Universidad del País Vasco / University of the Basque Country
This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.