Scientific Literacy in Education.
Scientific Literacy in Education is Important
Australia, like many other countries, needs a scientific literate community which addresses environmental concerns about our earth. Environmental issues such as global warming, water conservation, and understanding the causes of health issues, are all relevant to today’s learners as they will be using scientific methods to study and research these issues.
The fascination of science and how nature works is an area of the curriculum where parents and teachers can excel in motivating a keen interest in learners. Encouraging and catering to learners' enquiring minds goes a long way to having them display a strong interest in scientific knowledge.
Science and Earth Studies
Science and earth studies cover a vast array of learning areas, across the curriculum, commencing in early childhood. Knowledge gained is life long and starts with simplicity of knowledge base which can be extended and built on as learners move through their formal education years. By providing knowledge and skills for scientific learning you will encourage from an early age, confidence and enthusiasm in learners.
What can you do to encourage a love of science? Start in early childhood by exposing children to growing their own garden and caring for plants. Start a worm farm and compost bin to encourage recycling of food scraps. Collage with flowers, leaves and seeds. Care for animals by keeping a pet and understand life cycles by keeping silkworms. Go on an excursion to a zoo or farm so they can experience and help care for animals. Learn about the solar system by studying the night sky and a visit to a Planetarium. A beginning understanding of climate starts with sun safe strategies. Slip, slop and slap for sun protection is now widely known. Cooking with children is the beginning knowledge of how hot and cold work and the reaction to the mixing of solids and liquids. Water play commences knowing about pouring and measuring and water use in the life cycle of plants and animals. Hatch chickens if you are on a farm or have room in your learning environment.
Activities That Can Encourage Science Literacy in Education
There are many simple activities that can encourage a firm knowledge base for young learners.
- Make the learning experiences interesting by allowing the learners to carry out practical experiments. Hands on and visual experiences will allow them to use all their senses to gain a better understanding of science. Being able to work in a practical environment will allow for development of smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing, to experience the many different components that make up the environment.
- Encourage observation and problem solving skills by asking your older learners to record their findings. Question widely and ask, ‘Why is that happening?’ Encouraging their problem solving and observation skills will mesh into their literacy and mathematical learning. Go on nature walks. Encourage learners of science to keep a field folder for making observations and collecting specimens. Keep a weather map and allow learners to chart the weather each day so they can gain an understanding of temperature, rainfall, and season changes.
- Show scientific documentaries. There are many informative and interesting documentaries that are relevant to areas of scientific learning.
- Have easy to use equipment such as magnets, magnifying glasses, specimen bottles, funnels, different shaped containers, scales, and boxes.
- Set up a science table where specimens can be displayed for all learners to observe. Many museums have a borrowing system for specimens. Have ready plaster-of-paris and clay for making imprints for fossils. Paper and crayons are useful for texture rubs of leaves and other surfaces.
Scientific learning also needs to cover the diversity of other countries and cultures which leads to cooperation when caring for a global environment. Learners need to be aware of the conditions in other areas of the world effected by famine, floods, fires, deforestation, and the importance of our carbon footprint. Scientific learning is not confined to our own backyard but needs a global approach to continue sustainability.
By integrating the above techniques into your learner’s science experiences you will have the tools you need to help them develop a life-long love of learning in the area of science.They will come to view science as an interesting and enjoyable learning experience.
Keeping science a sensory/hands on experience will ensure you have a learning environment catering to all learners.
Science study crosses all areas of the curriculum and encourages both literacy and numeracy skills. Reading for understanding of scientific process for, problem solving and creation of enquiry to be researched and commented on, broadens and enhances a learner’s ability to understand the need for caring for our environment and contributing to ongoing scientific knowledge in a global context.
Heather Collins is an Early Childhood and Special Education Teacher who makes developmentally appropriate resources for teachers and parents to use with their children. She is author and co-author of poetry books and children’s books. She is a passionate collagist and has crafted beautiful finger puppets and story aprons suitable for early childhood education.
Her resources can be purchased on this website or she can be contacted at Create-Ed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order an original apron for any favourite storybook.