Misconception about Science: Final Part

In my previous entry I elaborated upon the fact that there is little interest in science amongst children. Today I will suggest some things that, in my opinion, may help to stimulate interest in science, not only amongst children, but also amongst everyone with little or no knowledge in science. Earlier I said that if parents at home, teachers at school and the industry as a whole try to get children more involved in science, then interest in science may grow in the near future, so that the society and the industry can both benefit from it. I will cover each aspect separately in this entry, hoping that the reader will gain more understanding and insight into this issue that affects us all.

Parents clearly have a very large influence on children as they raise them. Parental attitudes are one of the most important factors in shaping children’s interest in science. I often hear that parents say “It’s okay my child doesn’t do well in science subjects. I was no good at them either.”, which results in children dismissing science subjects as unimportant. In order to keep the interest in science, it is important to start early with it. If children want something specific in science that sparks and burns their interest, then they need to pay attention to science subjects in school. Parents should support them, even if they hardly know anything about science. This can be done by, for example, taking part in science fairs or guided nature hikes and visiting museums, observatories and aquariums are all ways that parents can show their kids that science is not only valuable, but fun too. In fact, what you don’t know about science can put the parents and their child on a level playing field when questions arise.

A few suggestions for parents in order to boost the interest of children in science are the following:

  • Show interest in the children’s activities;
  • Discuss activities before, during and after doing them;
  • Encourage the children to make predictions and comparisons and to draw conclusions;
  • Show the children how to go about finding an answer to a question;
  • Let the children discover things by themselves, only helping out whenever necessary.

As for teachers, well, I can be brief about that, considering the fact that I have experienced the same thing back in high school: Don’t be so boring. Engage the pupils in short and fun activities and discussions about everyday things related to science. Not everything needs to be done by the book only. If possible, school trips to science fairs and other events can be organised. Afterwards, in class, pupils can discuss about the activities. Moreover, performing experiments in class — either with everyone or just the teacher alone — tends to stimulate the interest of the pupils in science, because they then see science in action, so that they can question things about what they have seen and this way their interest is developed. A common proverb is “a picture says more than a thousand words” definitely applies here.

Finally, the industry is also responsible for awakening the interest in science, because they are the major players in organising scientific events, such as festivals or exhibitions. Without those events, many people would not know things about science in everyday life.

To make a long story — spread over my blog entries so far — short, there is simply lack of science communication all over the world and it all starts with the children. The industry has the money to organise scientific events at any time, at any place, for everyone; teachers have the knowledge to pass on at school; parents have the key to awaken the interest in science in children; and, finally, children have the potential to become scientists when their interest has sparkled and is burning fiercely enough. Those are the ingredients for a successful recipe of creating a new world of science with new people and thus also new potential. When that happens, the future may look brighter with respect to science. So, if we can take away the wrong assumption that science is boring and involves men in white clothes doing nothing but thinking about science stuff and performing dull experiments, then that’d be the first major step in the right direction. In fact, the editors of this blog have already shown that science is everything but boring! In the workshop Walking with Robots there are a number of fun activities dealing with science, all of which you can read about in this blog!


1 Response to “Misconception about Science: Final Part”

  1. 1 James
    20 February, 2008 at 11:52 am

    A fascinating look at the lack of scientific enthusiasm at a young age, which I fully agree to be one, or maybe the most important time to get rid of silly misconceptions about science in general. It is so annoying that fun in science is still only NOW trying to be put across in science education. An article recently in TES puts across a ‘brand new’ idea of engaging education in a more physical manner; I think it is surprising how still now, such a ‘fun’ educational technique is being branded as NEW from current research, yet such techniques are being used across many schools and educational locations although sadly not fully adopted.

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