Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Teaching Science and Volunteering

I am sorry to say that I don't have any photographs to share of the kindergartners and their water exploration.  I often find it impossible to take photographs of the experiments because I am kept busy volunteering at a station.  I have to say, that the joy is having the kids enjoy the hands-on experiments, and to see the joy on their faces, and to see the light bulb moment when they really understand a new concept.  I did a couple of experiments last Friday with the Kindergarten, we did the water exploration unit which involves the concepts of sinking and floating, density, and buoyancy.  One thing I notice with the young kids is their willingness to explain things away as magical if they don't understand what is happening.  I often received the magic answer when I asked why the water flowed down a wet string rather than down  a dry string.  Sometimes I receive the answer "God makes it do that".  Some of the kids are happy to listen and develop an understanding of what is really happening at a station, and a few are happy to tune it out.  I view it as a failure on my part to engage them in a clear explanation.  I will keep trying however.  My goal it to reach all the kids.

I have to say however, that the kindergartners present a particular kind of joy in learning that I find endearing.  They are so excited to see new surprising things that the older kids have begun to look at with a look of worldliness.  Again, I look on it as a failure on my part if they are not excited in the stations.  But, that is the joy and challenge of volunteering with the kids.  I want to engage every single child, have them wondering about the world around them, and to remember just  a few things from the day.  If we can engage them and show them science is fun at a young age, before middle school, maybe we won't lose them before that.

I really hate to hear that kids dislike science in second grade.  Science is great fun, or should be.  It is experimentation, figuring out the whys of the world, solving puzzles.  I feel lucky that my dad passed this attitude on to me.  I just hope I can pass that wonder on to a few of the children that I interact with through this program.

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