“I hate science!” is no longer heard

Guest post by DOE Science Program Specialist Latasha Fisher

“To be, or not to be.” An often used quote in literary times, but begs the true question – what do you want to be when you grow up? In Florida, students have the opportunity to really engage themselves in the classroom – particularly in courses that will help them shape the future.

The fields of science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as STEM, are really taking shape and will help our state’s economy for years to come. The days of saying, “I hate science!”should be pushed aside and embraced if we want our students to be profitable and compete in a globally connected society.

One teacher in Pinellas County knows all too well how to ensure that her students succeed in science. In fact, she was recently named as a finalist for the DOE/Macy’s Teacher of the Year award. Ponce de Leon Elementary School fifth grade science and writing teacher Tracy Staley is preparing her students today for the real world of tomorrow. 

At the beginning of the school year, Ms. Staley gives her new students a survey to find out how they feel about science. She recently found that 70 percent of her students had negative feelings toward science. However, by engaging her students with hands-on science lessons, she was able to make science cool and deepen the students’ confidence in their studies.

At the end of the school year, after repeating the same survey, she found that all of the students enjoyed science – one even said it was fun and they felt like a real scientist! She has found that hands-on learning also helps with language and self-esteem.

Ms. Staley uses the Inquiry Model which enables students to work through their ideas until they have evidence to support their thinking.

In one activity, students read a science fiction mystery book after learning of force and motion. Ms. Staley then asked the students to solve the mystery using the science knowledge they just learned. Students had to justify their claims about the mystery based on scientific evidence, and the result was a fun, engaging lesson that got the kids involved and increased their science and reading skills.

Does your child like science? How can teachers make science fun for students?

2 thoughts on ““I hate science!” is no longer heard

  1. ONE teacher at ONE elementary school is certainly a start. I hope that an evaluation system based on multiple choice questions from a list of specific facts does not reduce the chance that more teachers will follow the path of spending time on discovery rather than rote learning at the K-8 level.

    Interactive engagement through hands-on activities has been known to create interest in the process that is science since the 1960s, but finding teachers who are comfortable working without a net in that sort of curriculum is only part of the problem of preparing students for STEM careers. The bigger half (from where I sit at a community college advising students who are VERY interested in science or engineering or medicine) is whether they also learned enough math to be ready to pass calculus in their freshman year.

    Far too many students graduate from high school INTERESTED in STEM careers but lacking fluency in algebra. They start college a year or more behind where they should be if they want to pursue a STEM career. A minimal pass on the FCAT math test appears to mean that they know some basic 6th or 7th grade algebra, not that they are ready to jump into a one-semester review of pre-calculus and trigonometry or go directly into calculus. We are years from knowing if the new Algebra 1 exit exam will produce somewhat better prepared college freshmen, but that isn’t even close to what is needed for a STEM career. Students must also enjoy math at the K-8 level if they are going to choose the rigorous, higher-level math classes in high school needed to enter college “STEM ready”.

  2. As students enter into my classroom every year, I always hear at least 3 students, per class period, extol, “I hate science.” I believe that when you have not had a good introduction to a subject, you will have a strong dislike for the it in general–you will always hate it! I also noticed that the same students that hate science also hate math. Our students need to understand that both subjects will never go away.

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