Science talk

From the Early Years photo cache (click the pic for more).

One misconception about science is that discoveries or new ideas are “discovered” then agreed upon by scientists in a complete form. Talking to children about the process of scientific inquiry as they do an activity may help them appreciate the long, exploratory, route to being certain in science. Foster discussion by letting children know it is okay to disagree about what you think might happen.

These children are pointing to answer the question, “What shape bubble will you make with a square bubble wand?” and they are comfortable disagreeing with their neighbors.

As you do science with young children, include comments about science, such as these, in the discussion:

  • I hear more than one answer. That’s how science is, people don’t always agree. We can try this and find out.
  • Observations may not be the same. What do you see?
  • Sharing your information about what you see is what scientists do.
  • Yes, we can look in a book. Scientists research what people have learned already.

Here are two resources that explain how science talk is part of the process of science:

A good visual explanation of how science works is available from the Understanding Science website. See “The real process of science” showing the nonlinear paths in doing science.

For more about talk in science teaching, view a slideshow by Karen Worth of the Educational Development Center, Inc., Science Talk and Science Writing: A View from the Classroom, at the 2008 Literacy Institute.  The Inquiry Diagram (slide six) is another clarifying diagram about the process of scientific inquiry.

Some students may need repeated encouragement to talk freely; others may need a reminder to listen. Listening to my students helps me find out what they know about science.


This entry was posted in Early Years and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Gail
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Peggy Thank you so very much for continuing your stream of posts that make science more accessible in the classroom. I love the way you highlight the exploration, observation, and questioning that is part of all learning. Our K class is currently working on hatching ducklings, This is the hands-down perennial favorite project. I teach them about the needs of all living things (starting with our own healthy bodies) and caring for the eggs, then ducklings, makes for lots of important conversations. I’ll do my best to record their interactions but all too often I get caught up in the adventure and the guidance, so I forget the camera. Keep up the important posting. I love having you in my Reader.

  2. Peggy Ashbrook
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you Gail–as my mother would say, we have a mutual admiration society! Please put your web address into a comment so everyone can follow along as the ducklings hatch. I’ve never hatched any birds so I’m especially interested in knowing what safety precautions you follow, for both ducklings and children.

  3. Trish Hancock
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    I have really enjoyed your blog. I find that your approach to exposing the students to science. It is important that they learn about discovery before learning the facts that someone else has discovered. Learning to question why is what science is all about! Thanks again.

  4. Peggy Ashbrook
    Posted June 13, 2009 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    Hi Trish, thank you for the compliment. I look forward to reading more about the science moments and activities that happen in your classroom. Write more!

  5. kritika
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    nice experience of mine.Keep witing.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>