Is Your Child Receiving the Best Science Education Possible?
Three Things to Look for in a K–4 Science Program
by Mrs. Cahalane, Lower School Science Teacher
1. Science class at the elementary level must be a hands-on program.
Teachers need to create a curriculum that allows children to DO science, not just read about it. The K–4 science class should not consist of teachers lecturing & demonstrating. There must be a hands-on component where children are actively engaged in the topic being taught. Teachers need to create science lessons that encourage children to BE scientists- allowing them to inquire, explore, and investigate on their own.
2. Science class must be taught twice per week without exception.
Many teachers carve out science time but sometimes use it to catch up on standardized test subjects such as reading or math. Science is as important as the core subjects & teachers cannot substitute a science block with another subject. Make science a priority!
3. The elementary science curriculum needs to contain at least one STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) component at every grade level.
A good STEM lesson should start with giving children a problem & then asking them to solve it using the 4 STEM fields without the help of a step-by-step guide provided by the teacher. Encourage children to think on their own & to learn through trial and error. The teacher becomes the “guide on the side” rather than the traditional “sage on the stage.” For example: challenge first graders to build bridges. The point of the challenge is not to memorize facts about bridges and what makes them stand. The point of the STEM lesson should be –how can you MAKE a bridge that stands and does not collapse when weight is put on it?
Allow children to use everyday materials –paper towel tubes, empty tissue boxes, colored paper, etc. –to make their own bridges and see for themselves what works and what doesn’t. Sure the teacher can give a step-by-step guide on how to make the best bridge but isn’t it better to allow the children to figure this out for themselves?
Oak Hill Academy is a private school in NJ. The PK –4 science curriculum adheres to the 3 tenets listed above and is just one of the things that make Oak Hill Academy one of the best private schools in Monmouth County. To see photos of the science program in action, please take a look at Mrs. Cahalane’s Instagram account, @science_oakhillacademy.