New Teachers

Growing Excitement for Science

I am a pre-service teacher and have taken a great interest in teaching elementary school science! What are some activities that I can start the school-year of science with that will excite my students for the lessons to come?

Chanel Bristol
Chanel Bristol
240 Activity Points

OMG! There are so many things it is hard to choose one. I teach elementary so disregard if you are teaching middle or high school. I usually begin by asking them if I can cut a hole in a sheet a paper big enough to walk through. I ask them to try it first with their own paper. They can't do it. We take a vote of who thinks it can be done and who thinks it can not be done. I keep asking them why they think it can't or can be accomplished and we discuss their reasoning. I then demonstrate the "trick." https://allfortheboys.com/home/2014/09/03/quick-trick-walk-through-a-sheet-of-paper.html Then we see how many people we can fit inside the paper circle. I've gotten 25 students including me as long as we are careful not to tear the paper. They get so excited. The real reason I do this is to get them excited but also to question things and be able to start asking why or how? As scientists we have to prove things. This is a great way to get them engaged and thinking about proving what they state as a fact.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
85719 Activity Points

Hi Chanel! I think there is so many activities to chose from that will help you excite your students. Try to incorporate some hands-on and engaging activities with your class! This will get them excited to act out the experience and actually be able to perform the task. I will attach a link to a website that has a lot of great hands on activity ideas! https://www.education.com/activity/science/

Taylor Charlton
Taylor Charlton
315 Activity Points

Talor shared a great site. Start practicing you activities and add a new one each month to build up your repertoire.

Pamela Dupre
Pam Dupre
85719 Activity Points

Hi Chanel! I am a pre-service teacher studying Elementary Education at the University of Northern Iowa. I have the opportunity to teach a few lessons on science in classrooms that students really have an interest in. One of the lessons that I had the opportunity to teach is a ramps and pathways lesson which also integrates Engineering. In this lesson, I asked students the question " how do I get this marble to roll from one end of the ramp to the other?" and then held up a piece of a ramp and a marble. Then students investigated this and other questions they had with blocks, ramps, and marbles. They loved this lesson which spanned over multiple days and really worked on finding questions they were interested and then exploring how to answer it! Hope this gave you an idea! -Megan

Megan Lensing
Megan Lensing
2220 Activity Points

Hi Chanel! I am a preservice teacher as well, but have planned and taught about 10 different science lessons. Throughout these experiences, I have learned some strategies that help students get excited about learning science. First, students enjoy hands-on learning activities. For example, I taught a unit on life cycles and plant reproduction. To help students learn the parts of the flower, they dissected a real flower. During the dissection they were able to observe, through sight, smell, and touch, and identify the different parts of a tulip. Other activities include observing plant growth in varied lighting conditions, doing a "matter walk", etc. Second, incorporating the arts, such as drama and art creation, into a science lesson improves excitement. For example, when teaching students about the process of pollination, they engaged in a bee role play. During the role play, students "buzzed" to a "flower" (which was a cups with a white, paper flower on top) and drank the "nectar" (cheetos). Then they "buzzed" to another "flower" where the left their "pollen" (the cheetto dust on their fingers) on that flower. Other activities include creating a mural painting of a butterfly, constructing a 3D flower diagram, etc. Finally, incorporating the use of science journals during a unit of study or throughout the year helps students feel accomplished. Science journals are an essential learning tool when teaching science. It is a place where students can record their ideas, observations, and final conclusions. Provide guidelines, but allow students the freedom to choose how they want structure their journal. Allow students to engage with the journals at their academic level. For example, struggling students can include pictures and word descriptions, while more advanced students can write short paragraph explanations. This type of differentiation allows all student to feel successful, which will improve student excitement in relation to science.

Grace Nielsen
Grace Nielsen
2705 Activity Points

Hello Chanel,
There are a host of demonstrations and hands-on activities to thoroughly impress a class and start off the year with a real rush! I used to do quick STEM challenges using drinking straws and tape that not only got students moving the first day but taught teamwork as well. We broke into small teams that had to build something.  For instance: in a cooperative activity, each team built one part of a tower that we would assemble in half an hour!  They needed to coordinate their efforts and then executed their part of the plan.  In 30 minutes we stopped and tried to assemble all the pieces into a monstrous tower that more often then not would fail – to much delight!

Discrepant events are also exciting and thought-provoking.  Find ones that match your curriculum and be sure to test them out before demonstrating them.  Alternatively, provide groups of students with simple discrepant activities to conduct and have them try to explain it to the class.  There is an NSTA Press book you might want to check out: Brain-Powered Science - Teaching and Learning With Discrepant Events by Thomas O’Brien

I gave teams several science brain-teasers with demonstrations (attached) and told the them that if they could adequately explain them all I would give their team an A in the class right on the first day!  I obviously made these too hard but they were excited as can be to explain their answers and argue with me over the answers!

Hope this helps!

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Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
1985 Activity Points

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