The Importance of Learning Science: Teaching Strategies for Today’s Educators
It’s not always obvious that science shapes our daily lives, but the fact is science impacts countless decisions we make each day. From managing our health and well-being, choosing paper over plastic at the grocery store, or answering a child who asks why the sky is blue, science has an important role in our lives.* More than ever before, educators need to employ teaching strategies that inspire and prepare children to embrace science and potentially pursue it in their college and career choices.
Science is the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical, social, and natural worlds through observation and experimentation. It’s key to innovation, global competitiveness, and human advancement. It’s important that the world continues to advance the field of science, whether it’s finding new cures for cancer and other diseases or identifying and exploring new galaxies.
The Value of Learning Science
Beyond the potential scientific breakthroughs, there are individual benefits to learning science, such as developing our ability to ask questions, collect information, organize and test our ideas, solve problems, and apply what we learn. Even more, science offers a powerful platform for building confidence, developing communication skills, and making sense of the world around us—a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology.*
Science also involves a lot of communication with other people and develops patience and perseverance in children. Finding answers to their countless “why” questions pushes children to research and form their own opinions instead of taking others’ for granted. While it’s easy to go along with another child’s answer or pull out a smartphone and do a quick internet search to know why the leaves fall from the trees, a healthy dose of skepticism can take children farther as they explore the world around them and tackle some of its challenging questions.†
Teaching Strategies for Educators
There is an increasing need for scientists, engineers, and innovators. America’s future depends on the nation’s educators to use hands-on and minds-on activities to make science interesting, engaging, and inspiring. However, a career in education, especially science education, can be challenging. Judith Fraivillig, associate professor at Rider University, says kids tend to make up their minds about whether they like or dislike math and science by the fourth grade.‡
The consensus among students and educators is that science should be fun to learn and teach.
"Engaging students in science content requires educators to help students see themselves as scientists and engineers instead of passively observing other people doing the work of science,” said Melyssa Ferro, a science teacher, Walden University graduate, and Idaho’s 2016 State Teacher of the Year. “It is about creating opportunities for them to see science in application instead of just reading about it in a textbook." Complex textbooks are important to have, but if young learners can’t grasp the information and educators aren’t effectively teaching the content then it limits students’ chances for success.
When asked about the role teachers should play, Melyssa Ferro replied that "In this day of instant and global information access, it has become increasingly important for science educators to help students develop science process skills instead of focusing solely on the memorization of a body of facts. Science should be a verb instead of a noun." Some of the teaching strategies educators are using to promote science include problem-based learning, incorporating educational technology into the lesson, and project-based learning.
One way to learn how to master science and make it interesting for our youth is to earn an MS in Education (MSED) with a specialization in Science. For those who already have a graduate degree but wish to refine their skills, a Graduate Certificate in Science is a great option. Specifically, an online certificate program can help educators who wish to continue teaching while learning about the latest issues in science and science education and allow them to apply the information immediately to their classroom.
Walden University, an accredited institution, offers an online Graduate Certificate in Science K–8 where you can become an active participant in the scientific process as you explore unifying themes in environmental science, ecology, and the physical universe, as well as critical social concerns surrounding genetic engineering, biotechnology, and the environment. The graduate certificate allows educators to discover how to create exciting learning experiences for K–8 students by applying the tools of scientific inquiry while underscoring growing emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
Having a quality foundation in scientific principles and a blueprint for delivering engaging lesson plans that are easy to understand can be incredibly impactful. Educators armed with new and different strategies and techniques for teaching science can plant the seeds for future scientists who could do amazing things for society and the world.
*Let’s Talk Science, Why Is Science Literacy So Important?, on the internet at www.letstalkscience.ca/about-us/why-science.htm.
†School A to Z, Why Is Science Important in Young Kids' Lives?, on the internet at www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/homework-and-study/other-subjects-and-projects/science/why-science-is-important-in-young-kids-lives.
‡P. Kavilanz, Wanted: 100,000 New STEM Teachers, CNN Money, on the internet at www.money.cnn.com/2015/11/13/smallbusiness/stem-teachers-100kin10.
Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.
Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or alabamaachieves.org to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.
Note to all Pennsylvania residents: Walden University’s teacher preparation program is approved by the Minnesota Board of Teaching as leading to licensure. Because this program is not reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, candidates are instructed to apply for Pennsylvania certification as out-of-state graduates of a teacher preparation program.
Note to all Washington residents: Eligibility for initial educator certification in Washington is based on completion of a state-approved educator preparation program. This program is approved in Minnesota and is authorized for field placements in Washington by the Professional Educators Standards Board. Even though you may be residing in Washington while in this program, your application for educator certification in Washington will be processed as an out-of-state application. Go to http://pathway.pesb.wa.gov/archive/outofstate for more information. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for teacher advancement.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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