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Elementary Science

Teaching About Science Careers in Kindergarten

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Kate Geer Kate Geer 7865 Points

Several school districts near me or individual schools put on a career fair for middle school students every year. Every middle schooler in either the district if it is district wide or in the school if it is school wide participates. They invite professionals from the community to come in and set up a booth as if it were an actual job fair. The kids prepare by having a list of questions to ask about the different careers and they also dress to impress on the day of the career fair. I thought it was a cool way to introduce students to lots of different types of careers (it was not just science) and see what was out there. The students were very professional and asked lots of good questions. I think exposing kids at an early age to the different types of opportunities and career paths that are available is very important. I believe that you need to set the expectation at an early age that you have the potential to do whatever you want.

Bambi Bailey Bambi Bailey 9515 Points

Most early childhood classrooms include a dramatic play center in which students role play a variety of things (people, situations, animals, etc.). Many place the basic equipment of science into the center at some point during the year (white coats, outdoor vests, binoculars, goggles, swim fins, and actual equipment). Once students have had a chance to read about the work of a variety of scientists and do inquiry science, the teacher has a local scientist come to class to show pictures of her/him at work. The idea is not that the guest explains what science s/he does, but rather s/he explains and act out what they do during the day with the children. Some scientists are very good at this, others can't sort it out. Generally, scientists who aren't interested in talking to young children don't know what to say or how to communicate with young children. The type of work the scientist does is also key. A molecular biophysicist may have more trouble talking about work with young children while a chemist who works with lubricants that may affect the workings of a car, for example, does work that may be described in more concrete terms. The attitude of the scientist is also key, of course.

Kerrie Ellis Kerrie Ellis 1145 Points

I have found a lot of very interesting information and instructional tools on the STEM website. This website offers a variety off instructional ways to help with science in the classroom. This also encourages technology usage within the classroom. I think it is extremely important to guide our students to a future in science. Science teaches students of all ages the necessary skills that they need to use in other areas of their lives. Students are never too young to be introduced to science and the inquiry of such.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

Kerrie thanks for your post. What grade do you teach? I agree with you it is never too early introduce science into the lives of young children. Could you share which of the resources found at the site you consider to be the most valuable? Kathy

Danyelle Hanes Danyelle Hanes 855 Points

As a future elementary teacher I completely agree that we need to introduce science in the classroom at earlier ages. I currently am an assistant at a daycare and we try and incorporate science into the classroom by having a science station with magnifying glasses, bugs, solar system pictures, bottles filled with water and oil, and other manipulatives students can experiment with. While the daycare is not aimed to be academic, we hope that students gain some knowledge, appreciation, and exposure to science before they enter kindergarten.

Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

We should definitely begin teaching elementary students about science and science careers. Young learners inherently love science. When I transitioned from teaching high school physics to teaching an elementary science lab, I was concerned that the K-5 students would have trouble grasping concepts and conducting labs. On the contrary, I found that my elementary students were eager to learn and participate in the science lab. To introduce my students to different science careers, they were divided into lab groups of different types scientists. For example, I had the botanists, the geologists, the chemists, etc. We talked about the different types of scientists and what types of science they studied. I was also fortunate to live near an Air Force Base that did a lot of testing, so many of the parents of my students were scientists who enjoyed coming into our classroom to share their careers with us.

Elementary students are also very inquisitive and do well in an inquiry-based learning environment. I began the year using guided inquiry and as we progressed through the year, we transition to full inquiry lessons. NSTA Press has a great book called Inquiry: The Key to Exemplary Science. It is an excellent book for implementing inquiry in any classroom.

Patricia Reid Patricia Reid 1850 Points

Hi, I totally agree we should have the young students get involved in science. With the state standards that need to be covered, I found that centers were being pushed to the side. The students need to learn to play together socially and I felt bad for taking the time away. It is interesting to see the students role play in housekeeping: they role play mom,dad,babies,pets and even job roles. They become engineers with the blocks and build roads and houses and bridges. Thanks to all who made a comment; I will incorporate a science center for the students to visit during academic time when they are done their work. Even teaching the Common Core Standards, I see the value in the students being investigators and exploring new activities. I am teaching about the celestial objects for my science and I have many books on planets, sun, stars and I can look up activities I could have for them to do. I know my students would enjoy having a science center.

Jennifer Perry Jennifer Perry 2250 Points

My husband has a farm, growing papayas, bananas, citrus, longan, hydroponic vegetables, and orchids. He has asked me several times if I can have my students make fruit fly traps for him and for the neighboring farmers, especially as citrus season approaches. It is a wonderful way to show students how much science is really involved in farming, and how they can benefit the environment. The traps we make are inexpensive and simple, using plastic liter bottles, thin bendable wire, q-tips, cut up cotton t-shirts, tools for making pukas, and methyl eugenol (available in garden shops). This lure attracts the male flies and is quick reacting so that students begin catching fruit flies inside the classroom. If you can have your class partner with a farmer, they will be helping to eradicate invasive species and can even have a contest to see whose trap catches the most by a certain date. I am sure the farmer would love to bring produce from the farm to share with the class, or even incorporate a field trip.

Lilian Franklin Lilian Franklin 945 Points

Hello Adah and all, I am an early childhood educator and I could not agree more about teaching people, at a young age, about science careers and all careers for that matter. In my younger classrooms, I always refer to the children in the math center as "mathematicians", children in the art center as "artists", children in the science center as "scientists" and so on. I find that, when we make concepts real for children, they embrace these titles and truly want to explore them. For example, my two fellow early childhood teachers and I created a map of our school campus. We tell our young students that we will be exploring our environment using our binoculars (which we've already made with paper towel rolls, string, and paint). We encourage our students to find landmarks that we've highlighted on our map to help us get back to our classroom. Like Maureen previously mentioned, "Young learners inherently love science." We encourage the students to describe what they see, hear, smell, and feel along the way. We close our eyes and listen with our ears or smell with our nose. If we smell lunch, we guess (or make a hypothesis) that we must be near the cafeteria. If we hear cars, we make a hypothesis that we must be near the road/parking lot. In addition to teaching young learners about basic science concepts and getting them excited about exploring, observing, guessing, and experimenting, I also believe that it is important to teach these young scientists correct scientific terms. I find that young children love to learn and use their new vocabulary words and parents love to hear their children sounding so smart. While some people may think that teaching young children correct scientific terms may be difficult, it really isn't. Children learn by imitating. If adults say they are making a hypothesis, children will also make a hypothesis. If adults say that a butterfly emerges from it's chrysalis, children will also explain that a butterfly emerges from it's chrysalis. One great thing about early childhood education is that concepts and ideas are turned into games, songs, hands-on activities, etc. Before a recent field trip to a museum to explore the giant bug exhibit, I taught my young students one of my favorite scientific songs: Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen Eyes and ears, antennae too Six legs and that's an insect for you!

Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

Hi Lilian,

Thanks for joining the conversation! I absolutely love the version of 'Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes' that you posted...very clever! I'm thrilled that you highlighted the importance of introducing science vocabulary to young learners. As you mentioned, our young kids learn through imitation. By introducing complex vocabulary to young students, we help them incorporate it into their vernacular. This makes it so much easier for the students to activate prior knowledge as they move through elementary, middle, and high school.

I noticed that you said that you are teaching early education. Are you teaching at the Pre-K level? Over the past few years, I've observed that many of our entering kinders are coming in with a solid science foundation from their pre-K class. It's fantastic to see 5 and 6 years so excited about science!

I have several books that I love to use for K - 2nd grade level, but I think they would be useful to use at the Pre-K level, too:
Science Experiments for Young Learners ISBN:1-55799-779-9
Adorable Wearables That Teach About the Human Body ISBN: 978-0-439-22269-3
A Year of Hands-on Science ISBN: 978-0-545-07475-9

Brittany Phillips Brittany Phillips 515 Points

Hi Adah, I couldn’t agree with you more, students need to be exposed to science (in a positive way) at a very young age. Providing our students with a variety of fun science experiments will definitely lead to greater interest later on in life. Thanks for sharing the articles; they will definitely be on my “to-read” list since I plan on teaching in the elementary grades. Brittany

Marie Samba Marie Samba 3635 Points

Hello Adah Stock!!! I believe it is true when you post the students should be doing something that hast to do with their interest of filed it will keep them involved in school and get some experience

Alexis Ellison Alexis Ellison 2785 Points

This thread has excellent resources about introducing younger students to various aspects of science! I think that instilling a love for and an interest in science (and math) at an early age is extremely important. As mentioned, young learners have an inherent interest in science (and in most subjects). The issue is that the inherent interest that young learners have is not being nurtured and students begin to associate these subjects with things that are boring or with tests that they do not do well on. It is so important that teachers do all they can to ensure that students remain interested in and develop a love for science.

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