7 Fun Ways to Learn Science
7 Fun Ways to Learn Science
The first thought that comes to many people when they think about science is a group of socially inept children (and adults) playing around with complicated and abstract concepts that are beyond the reach or understanding of the ordinary man or woman. Unfortunately, this is a view that has pervaded society and infiltrated many halls of learning, right from kindergarten to the lecture halls in universities all over the world. While there have been many attempts to popularize science and all its branches among the student population in various stages of learning, most of these approaches have been horribly misguided. The trick to making science fun and popular to learn lies in the methodology used to impart knowledge. If teachers and lecturers used fun ways to make people understand some of the concepts that are the bed rock of science, there would undoubtedly be more people seriously thinking about pursuing careers in science.
The good news is that this is now possible. The following are some of the ways that can be used to make science more engaging, more interesting and simpler to grasp:
#1 Use the internet to your advantage
The one thing that students have all over the world that is of enormous help to them (and that previous generations did not have before) is the internet. This worldwide, interconnected web of computers and servers is the largest repository of knowledge that the world has ever seen. While in years past it took hours and possibly even days to find the right article or book explaining the principles behind a scientific experiment or study, it now takes seconds to find the same piece of information.
While in previous years science was taught in front of a blackboard and by an old man whose voice was the equivalent of twelve of the strongest sleeping pills taken at once, there are now many multimedia forms that have been incorporated into the science lesson. If you are curious about the solar system, all you have to do is search for the solar system online and you will be presented with beautiful diagrams and snapshots of the solar system taken from space. You will also have the opportunity to watch amazing documentaries on the same, as well as catch up on the latest research and explorations that have been made in space by astronauts. This is mind blowing and has definitely played a very big role in elevating the joy of delving into science among many students, from toddlers to university graduates pursuing postgraduate degrees.
#2 Involving students in research
Another fun way of inculcating the love of science into highly impressionable minds lies in involving students into the world of research. This is due to the fact that research will compel everyone to apply what has been learnt in class, requiring all students to put their best foot forward and really test their mental and physical limits. For instance, a lesson on the science of how drugs and medicines work on the body could inspire a research project on how to come up with better drugs. This would prompt the students in charge of this project to learn about the history of drug development and how those processes have changed over time. They would also be required to use their imagination to create new and better processes of drug development. By the end of their research project, these students would have fully appreciated the role of medicines in human life, and would have also appreciated the role of science by seeing it being applied in everyday situations. This is definitely a better and more efficient way of learning science.
#3 Getting students to work on science projects and experiments
Science can also be made fun to learn if there are competitions that revolve on creating and simulating science experiments. National competitions with lucrative prizes for the first three places such as scholarships would really go a long way in motivating students to give their all when in the science classroom. It would also make them really excited to be able to simulate an actual scientific occurrence, such as a volcano. Knowing how chemicals interact to be able to produce an accurate representation of what actually happens on the ground would be eye opening and extremely enjoyable to the student designing that experiment.
By having such competitions open, students also learn to think outside the box and come up with innovative experiments that are aimed at looking at modern problems in a new light. They would also be suitably placed to learn how to design the perfect scientific experiment, without including design errors that can compromise a whole study in the future, when they finally become qualified to conduct important studies dealing with coming up with solutions for the many problems troubling the human race.
#4 Engaging with real life scientists
It is also important to note that engaging with real scientists in class would also make the learning of science based courses more enjoyable and relatable. It is one thing to read the name of a famed scientist on a piece of paper. It is quite another to see this scientist in the flesh in your own classroom. With the advent of the internet, classrooms located thousands of miles away from a particular scientist can still enjoy his (or her) presence through teleconferencing.
This will create a good avenue for mentoring and nurturing of talent within the halls of learning. Having someone to look up to as you struggle with tough concepts in your course can make the difference between perseverance and admitting defeat and surrendering. This is why schools and colleges all over the world should pay particular attention to fostering the bond between the science fraternity out in the world and the science community in the school.
#5 Developing critical thinking skills
Another fun way of making science learning enjoyable and highly stimulating is fostering and nurturing the development of critical thinking skills in the minds of the students already showing interest in science. Critical thinking is the art of using rational thought to dissect an unknown quantity and variable so as to understand how the sum of its whole works. While this is not an easy skill to teach and be taught, it is particularly valuable in dealing with scientific problems and paradoxes that defy the rules of nature or established opinion. For instance, it is critical thinking that enabled scientists such as Galileo to proclaim that the earth is round and not the center of the universe, as majority of the leading scholars of the time believed.
Critical thinking will embolden students into refuting ‘truths’ which go against the very principles of science, and it will enable them to formulate experiments and make observations that will help the whole world find lasting solutions to mysteries that have plagued scientists for generations and centuries.
#6 Improving memory retention
One of the things that make science unpalatable in the minds of many eager students is the fact that science requires someone with a good memory. Memory retention is one of the key strengths and competencies that will prove whether someone is a good scientist or not. In fact, it is true that people with poor memories find science to be a hard, exacting subject that would be best left alone. However, people with good memory skills are much more likely to find the subject intriguing and enjoyable from the very beginning. This is due to the fact that they can trace a problem from its very beginning without getting lost and confused among all the facts that would be thrown about as people attempted to arrive at a solution.
It therefore seems that improving the memory retention capabilities of your students would prepare and prime them to learn and enjoy science more than they ever could if they had poor memory retention. This can be done by creating games, songs and mnemonics to remember salient and important facts and principles that make up the backbone of a particular science topic or principle. For instance, having a mnemonic for remembering all the planets in the solar system will help anyone who wants to get involved in a discussion of these planets. They will not get lost because they will have a good grounding of the basics of what is being discussed.
#7 Encouraging group based study and self directed learning
Another important way of making learning science fun and exciting is changing the way the subject is taught. Instead of having a teacher stand in front of everyone and spew out facts and principles in a monotone, dividing the students into groups and urging them to discuss and learn as a team would make the whole experience more exciting and more enjoyable than listening to one person for a whole hour. It would also compel the students to get personally involved in the science, something that no teacher would be able to inspire when talking to a classroom of bored students.
Photo credit: Kiddo Science Puchong
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