More science in the early years—a reoccurring theme from high school teachers and researchers

Planting Ajuga and learning about roots, leaves, and runnners.So it’s not just me, or you…An elementary school science specialist wrote to National Science Teacher Association colleagues asking middle and high school teachers which science skills and knowledge are typically seen lacking in students as they transition from the elementary level to the middle school level and then to high school level classes. The response has been positively worded (not pointing any fingers) suggesting that:
students lack “having made more observations of the world- having noticed that the days are longer in the summer and that the moon is sometimes out in the day time and having noticed that there is more than one type of plant or bird or cloud or rock.” and “more experiences making things- baking bread, building with popsicle sticks and glue, or trying to fix something that’s broken…a greater awareness of the world around them.”

Examining a milkweed seed pod.Another teacher observed that students are unfamiliar “with the great diversity of life in the world (both living and extinct)…it would be so helpful to MS and HS teachers if their students had been exposed to a fair sampling of plant, animal and even microbial life during their elementary years…if teachers could focus on the major categories of life (how they’re classified).”

These insights into what middle and high schoolers are missing have been discussed on the  NSTA email list server (for NSTA members) before and are in line with what education researchers and early childhood teachers say about science in the early years—it’s important to introduce scientific study early so children get the experience they need to understand concepts taught in the upper grades. Read about some efforts to bring more science into early childhood classrooms in Researchers Testing Programs to Teach Science in Preschool in Education Week, in print and online .


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