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Science: The world around us

(From The Multigrade Teacher's Handbook, published by the Bureau of Elementary Education, Department of Education, Culture, and Sports, the Philippines, in cooperation with UNICEF, 1994.)

When learners study science, their focus can reach down to the smallest building blocks of matter and life, and out to the farthest reaches of space.

For young learners, the study of science can be closely tied to observation of the plants, animals, and physical forces around them.

As much as possible, presentations, projects, and learning can make use of demonstrations and experiments that bring children into contact with concrete phenomena, such as sound waves, rainfall, sunshine, and plants and the earth.

Science learning can be fostered by concrete activities about:

    - plants and animals

    - the human body

    - the earth and the atmosphere

    - the sun, the moon, the solar system and space

    - water and landforms

    - natural and man-made environments

    - magnetism and electricity

    - sound and music

The key, in all of these areas, is to discover ways that learners can explore their own experiences of these topics. To learn about sound and music, they can experience pitch and vibration using stringed instruments (which can even be home-made). To learn about the solar system, they can observe the phases of the moon or chart the movement of the sun.

These kinds of concrete experiences can be supported by effective introductions to scientific processes. In the course of learning about science, students can be . . .

   - encouraged to make hypotheses

   - led to plan research and experiments to test their hypotheses

   - guided in pursuing the investigations they have devised

Overall, students can be introduced to the role that science plays in society, and of the processes of scientific method.

Other ways of thinking and knowing

In many communities, people have developed other ways of understanding nature and the world around them. Members of the community may know special herbs or other means for healing, they may tell stories that explain the creation of the land around them.

Such ways of thinking and knowing have emerged over the course of centuries, and are often woven into the fabric of our cultures.

In years past, these forms of knowledge were seen as opposed to science. In recent years, such alternative forms of knowledge about health, well-being, and behaviour are have been seen by scientists as holding answers to questions that are of interest to everyone on earth.

Young learners may have already encountered stories, sayings, and even special ways of healing. As teachers, we should find ways to be respectful of these ways of thinking, while helping learners gain understanding of science as a specific form of knowledge.

Journal activity: Science in daily life

Identify some of the ways that scientific knowledge can contribute to our understanding of the ways we live our lives.

What are some of the ways that scientific understanding connects with our daily lives? When we use boil water to purify it, we are killing invisible micro-organisms that were unknown before their discovery by scientists. When we use a hand pump to pump water out of a well, we are using a simple machine­the lever­to create a vacuum. When clouds form, lightning strikes the earth, and rain falls, we experience the grand forces of nature.

Design one new lesson based on the connection of scientific knowledge and investigation to daily life.

  • What resources will you use to teach?

  • Will learners be asked to frame a hypothesis?

  • What activity can they experience to test their theories or to explore your presentation?

  • What information resources­such as a textbook­can they use to build conceptual understanding of the activity?

  • How will you assess their understanding of the activity and the concepts involved?

When you finish your activity, you may wish to share it with the Teachers Talking community.

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Last revised April, 1999
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