Oh, My where has the time gone! – Preparing to Learn Science

Life has a tendency to catch up with all of us.  And, it even becomes more challenging when spring is in the air.  I started this blog to help those that wanted a bit of enrichment to add to their science curricula – whether a home school or a classroom situation.  Also, wanted it to be fun for the whole family.  My intent was to do something weekly – but as with all good intentions things happen.  And, so with me.

A little background – in January I took a position as an instructor of science (physics, chemistry and Earth science) at two year college.  I am now teaching full time – lecture and laboratory.   This has definitely helped me with topic areas for the blog and insight into new ways of communicating science.  However, April became a bit busier than I thought as I have been actively working on my college curricula.  With the semester winding down, I am able to pick up where I had left off – and hopefully bring some new insights in preparation for taking and teaching science.

During this past semester – I have learned a great deal about student preparation for their first two years of college – or the preparation of the returning student to college.  Hopefully, I will be able to incorporate and share some of these through this blog.  So, while I will continue to bring fun science activities to this space – I am also hoping to help parents, teachers and even students to prepare to learn science.

For most people there is a perception that science is hard.  (In reality, all learning in any form or subject can be considered “hard.”  Science is no different but the attitudes about science are.)   It has been my observation that there are two fundamental reasons for this and they are both related.  It is the language of the scientist – i.e. the terminology and the math.  Math is the language of the physical scientist – it shows the relationships and communicates specifics.  This mixed with the terminology, the names and jargon, and scientists and practitioners of science tend to “scare” people.  It is because of your human nature – people fear what we don’t understand. And, thus because the language being used is outside of the norm for most individuals – science is hard.

But, stop and think for a minute – what is science?  Science at its most fundamental level is observing your surroundings and trying to understand how things work or why the physical world is the way it is.  Why is the sky blue?  Why is the grass green?  How do plants get the energy they need to grow?  Why does the ball fall to the ground when you drop it?

I have always said it is much harder to teach science to a bunch of preschoolers or kindergartners than high school students. The first is because you have to teach the science in a terms that are understandable for the age group.  But the biggest reason is because they are not conditioned to ask the “right” questions, i.e. a preschooler will ask a very difficult question where a high school student may not even ask a very simple one.

As I mentioned previously – it is the learning that is hard – not the subject matter.  And, what we are seeing particularly in science is that students have yet to understand how to best approach the process of learning.  Sure, in most public or private schools; students have been exposed to the subject matter, have been taught how to prepare for the test, and how to meet the expectations of the course.  But, because of the changes in our systems – note taking skills, using technical literature, practical application of the material, etc. are not as emphasized.  These skills are vital to success at the next level.

Over the next three months, Sophic Pursuits will be working on developing tools, resources, and reference material to help prepare students for the transition into the college and/or upper level course environment.  The focus will be on utilizing the resources that are now available to the student such as virtual laboratories, youTube short lessons, simulations, ect.  As well as focusing on the more traditional type of resources – note taking, “how to read a chapter in a science text”, or “how to succeed in science”.

For those of you in this transition phase or those working with someone in that transition – I would love to hear from you to learn what challenges you are facing.  I would also like to know what questions or concerns that you may have.  And, would love to know what resources you have found helpful.

Stay tuned and hopefully there will be something that helps you take the next steps.  And, you can be better equipped to take those first science courses in college.

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