Thoughts from a reflective educator.
First some misconceptions about science:
What if we create really clear explanations to address these misconceptions?
What if we run experiments with students? What if they design their own experiments to test out their hypothesis? (Really recommend watching this until the very end.)
Are there some scientific facts which are useful to know? Definitely. We could teach most those facts in a single science course if that was the purpose of science education. Why then do we teach science for 13 years in school?
A recent article suggesting that labs are "a waste of time" in science assumes that the purpose of science education is to transfer information. Instead, I believe that kids should learn that science is about experimentation and testing ideas, and that the facts which comprise scientific knowledge have been discovered through experimentation. They should know that science is not a collection of permanent facts about the world, but that instead, what is considered true in science changes. Science is more of a way of thinking about the world than a collection of isolated facts. Science is a philosophical perspective on the world wherein we recognize that through observation, experiment, and analysis, we can learn about the world.
What would you prefer? Should students know a lot of science facts, but perhaps don't understand how those facts were derived? Or would you prefer that students understand the scientific method deeply, but might not know as much existing scientific knowledge?
David is a mathematics teacher and a learning specialist for technology at Stratford Hall in Vancouver, BC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, and Bangkok before moving back to Canada. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.