"Is there a lack of scientists due to a lack of wonder?" asks a middle school science teacher at A Voice From the Middle blog. Not enough Americans are pursuing math and science career options because, he opines, the science curriculum as currently presented in most American schools doesn't fuel a child's natural inquisitiveness.
"We are so caught up in teaching content through having students memorize facts," he writes, "that most students do not get to capture the sense of wonder of simply discovering things. I do not believe the way to deal with this problem is to radically change the curriculum we are teaching but instead change how we are teaching it. If we can produce more inquisitive students, they will naturally flock to these fields.A college professor of mine once told me that the purpose of school was not to memorize information but rather learn how to ask the right questions. In this digital age there is no lack of information but there is a reluctance to question things and to seek out that information. Teachers need to spend more time in inquiry-style teaching where students are not simply spoon-fed answers but rather are responsible for even figuring out what the problem is and then come up with possible solutions."
Oh, boy. I wish I had a friend like this to help me teach science every now and then. I can't quite do it from the book as well as I'd like.
Today, we were learning about gravity and mass. We learned the fact that the earth pulls on every object, and that this pull is called gravity. Of course Elf told me this was only PARTIALLY true because birds don't have gravity. People have magnets in their feet to make them stick that way to the ground (?!), but leaves do not. This is why leaves are blown about in the breeze and people are not.
Speaking of which, why isn't the wind stuck by gravity? Emperor wants to know. And if you're teaching me that gasses become liquids when they're cold, howcome there's air at the South Pole?
I don't know. I'm sure there are really good answers to all your questions, but for now we will just accept that winds blowing and birds flying are special miracles from God, ok? I see by the looks on their faces that this is NOT OK with them. But the answer is not in the book. Crap. I'm mentally putting those things on a "look up later" list. These are things that have been around me all my life, but I'm stumped by a little kid's simple and genuine question.
Diversion tiiiime! HEY. Remember I told you we'd blow up a balloon and you could see that a balloon's air has mass? Hm? Let's do that. Now, we put the deflated balloon on one side of the hangar, and we blow up a balloon and tie it to the other side. According to the book, the side with the air in it will hang lower than...
The children are yelling with joy because the balloon is coming after me!
Well, it wasn't supposed to do that. It's static electricity, you see. Oh... um, where does that come from? Um... well... where does it come from. Um. Well, you can *see* where it comes from, right? Weren't you watching? Okaaaaaay, I really don't know where that comes from, either. (BOY do I feel stupid!)
Well, let's hang the balloons on the wall here after we rub them on our heads.
And so ends our science lesson. I think next time we buy science curriculum, we'll have to buy the kind with all the experiments on video.