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:
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.