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Effective Science Teacher

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Julie Valadez Julie Valadez 2560 Points


I am currently a senior in college and will be graduating soon. As a person who struggled in the science area, how do you prepare or what tips would you give to teach this subject in an effective way? I want students to enjoy learning this subject, and I want to teach this in an enjoyable yet accurate manner. 

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

Build your own library of content- 'My Library', don't frontload lessons, do not define vocabulary, and start the new topic off with a phenomena. The 'fun' things are fun because the teacher makes them fun and exciting. Ask them what questions they have, list those questions on the board or chart paper. Those questions will drive your instruction and root out misconceptions students have so you will know where to focus. 

There are so many resources here. When I first used the NSTA site, I just clicked on everything and explored until I found out what works for me. You can't learn everything over night but, a wise mentor told me, stay one step ahead of your students.  Commit to learning 2 new things each month and then add to that each month afterwards. Take content in small bites. There isn't a teacher that I know that doesn't wish they could go back and re-do their first few years of teaching!

When students ask questions, they are assimilating information and you do not need to know all the answers! Tell them they asked an excellent question and you want them to write it in their notebook. Then you ask them to find the information and share it with the class. This also helps cut down on those random questions that are off topic. They will only write down the questions that are truly important to them.

Brandon Ramirez Brandon Ramirez 685 Points

Hi Julie, 


As someone who began teaching science in the tutroing center at my university, moved on to HS tutoring and now teach middle school I feel the mostg important thing you can do is make students feel they can learn and accomplish goals in science. So many students feel that they aref not smart enough to do it, or to achieve the lessons goal but once you show them they can do it once it almost triggers something that pushes them. From there I feel it is extra important to be involved and be the the most 'effective  teacher' you can be!

Camillia Ledbetter Camillia Ledbetter 960 Points



As a first-year teacher, I have two pieces of advice for you: enthusiasm and fun. Science can become a daunting subject to learn with all of the heavy concepts and vocabulary. If you do not seem excited to teach the content and talk about it, the students will not be engaged enough to learn it. I usually achieve this by relating the content to real-world scenarios and issues. Fun might be even more important! The most appealing part of science to our students is the hands-on activities. The simplest act of walking outside and collecting dirt to sample can make it a fun day.

Good luck to you.

Rachel Blackwood Rachel Blackwood 105 Points


This was my first year teaching. I was a research scientist before teaching. I love science and I love sharing what I know but the great thing about science is it's okay to not to have all the answers. My background is in neuroscience and genetics and I'm teaching 7th grade integrated science. Many times the questions students ask me I don't know and I make sure to honestly tell them I don't know. But then I have them help me find the answers. I have found that they enjoy the investigation process and it also helps them to understand it is okay to not know but there are ways to get the information (correctly). I also try to teach phenomenon that interest them so that they stay engaged. The best lessons for them this year where ones that pertained to their everyday life.  Find phenomenon that relate to your interest and the students, i'm sure you will all find it enjoyable. 

Mary Potter Mary Potter 745 Points

I would suggest making a lot of the lessons hands on. It gets the students more excited when they're able to actually experiment or go observe something. There are a lot of cool websites too that offer great activities!

Olivia Phillips Olivia Phillips 450 Points

Hi Julie! I am also a student looking to teach secondary education science. Like Brandon said in his reply, I think an approach that will be very important is re-assuring your students that they are capable of achieving and accomplishing their science goals. Another approach is maybe not try to make some of the 'more difficult' topics for some students, sounds like it will be difficult. For example, introduce a stoichiometry unit as simple as an atoms and molecules unit. Good luck!!

Susana Castillo Susana Castillo 1525 Points

Hi Julie! Currently, I'm not student teaching yet, but I will next fall semester 2021. I think it's very importnat to know you should know the standards and objectives where you want your students to learn and accomplish. Usually, for first-year teachers would teach science the traditon way, but as they progess and get better at it, they will teach science more in their own hands. Just rememeber to it's okay to use other teacher's resources to help you teach the subject. Another thing, you can do is to provide more hands on activities such as just going outside and have them become the scientist to explore nature. Have them write down question that they might have before going outside. Then the students will explore outside to see if they can answer their questions. Another thing, my cooperating teacher uses Seesaw to upload or create actitivities for her students to do. The nice part is that Seesaw has activities that others teachers have done and you can use their's teach the lesson on the topic that you are teaching. The best part is that most of the activities are FREE to use. I hope this was helpful for you. 

Autumn Miller Autumn Miller 640 Points

I have found that students love hands-on activities because they can physically touch and see what they are learning about! Also, virtual games and science field trips are also fun to use to teach a lesson as well as a fun video to watch or book to read! 

Cynthia Marroquin Cynthia Marroquin 370 Points

Hi Julie! 

I am currently a junior in college and i'm in my second year in the Education program. I love your post and the comments on your feed are so helpful! I love science but it is not my strong suit when it is compared to math or english. However, I have been teaching students at my church for many many years and when it comes to teaching them science they love experiments and doing their own research! They may be little (I teach 5 year olds) but they love to be engaged and 'help the teacher out' when doing experiements and figuring out why it happened. 

Always be excitied and happy to see them! They will come off from how you are acting and even if they are having a bad day your smile and enthusiasum will motivate them to get engaged. 

Goodluck Julie! You're going to do great.

Keyla Ochoa Keyla Ochoa 400 Points

Hi Julie! Although I am not an educator yet, I also fear teaching subjects in an ineffective way. Thank you for posting this forum. I look forward to teaching lessons my students will enjoy. :) 

Alicia Koszyk Alicia Koszyk 600 Points

Hi Julie, 

I agree with as a college student and see where you are coming from. I also have struggled with science and today my professor has told us to just hide your distaste of science from your students otherwise they will have the same attitude without trying. Back in elementary school, I loved doing experiments and being hands on. That is defintely something I want to do is 3 out of 5 days of science class include an experiment and the other 2 days to be for testing, review games and media videos. 

Jessica Patino Jessica Patino 580 Points

I say the best thing to do to prepare for a subject is to look it over in advance. Look at different websites and meet with science teachers in your future school and ask if you can see examples of lessons that you may be teaching this next year. Practicing and liking a subject takes time and effort. Students can tell when their teacher does not like a subject or does not understand it either. 

 Brittany Culp 120 Points

I would put science with another lesson and have it a reading and science lesson or a math and science lesson. You could even do art or something that you enjoy doing as well.

Shayla Ball Shayla Ball 650 Points

I really enjoyed reading these replies! I will be graduating next year and science is a tough subject for me. Certain topics I am really comfortable with, others I am not. I feel like doing research before teaching the topic would help, so you are more comfortable, but also don't let it be known that you struggled with it. Having students do experiments would show that it is okay to explore and it is okay to make mistakes!

Jeremy Goforth Jeremy Goforth 1456 Points

Here are some of what I have learned teaching middle school science:

-Focus on phenomena and the students use of their senses to make observations. When it fits, make use of instruments which extend our senses to examine the phenomena. 

-Engage with the students with questions and think-out-loud with the students during classroom discussion.

-Create an engaging and warm environment where it is ok to to arrive at the “wrong answer”. 

-Teach lessons with a storyline which captivates students thinking.

Olivia Phillips Olivia Phillips 450 Points

Jeremy, I am a sophomore in college, and I recently attended a web seminar from NSTA over phenomenas. I appriciate your response including phenomenas to help the students' curiosity grow. I also like how you said, 'Create an engaging and warm environment where it is okay to arrive at the 'wrong answer'.' A safe and warm environment will be a goal I strive for in my classroom. 

Brittany Wolford Brittany Wolford 1162 Points

I think it's important for first year teachers to remember that when teaching science, you don't have to know much about the content. All you really need to know is the standard and the objective where you want students to be at the end of the activity, and resources to get there in a fun way. You can learn with your students as you go, which is why your comment 'engage with the students with questions and think out loud with them during discussions' is so vital. Be the adult who facilitates their learning, give them freedom to find the right and wrong answers, give them the resources to answer their questions, but be inquisitive and childlike in your learning with them! They will enjoy it more!

Elisha Elias Elisha Elias 245 Points

Hello Jeremy,

I have been teaching for a long time. Your response answers the question at hand perfectly. Most of what a new teacher will experience depends on the school climate and the support structure they have. When your school climate is open to flexibility and innovation and teacher supports are in place, it frees the teacher to create the positive environment you describe.

Nicole Anthony Nicole Anthony 702 Points

I am a student teacher and one thing that I feel brings the student interested in science is bringing the real world into the lessons. I think it is beneficial for the lessons to make real-world connections that the students can relate to, this way they understand why they are learning about it. Using a phenomenon at the beginning of the lessons engage the students and allow them to begin asking questions. 

Olivia Phillips Olivia Phillips 450 Points

Hi Nicole,
I am a second year at Wartburg College right now, and I love your idea on bringing the real world into teaching science. I think it can be a powerful way to allow differentiated instruction. Asking questions is also another great way to get students to interact with each other and think actively!

Baylee Houck Baylee Houck 535 Points

I too am a student teacher and getting to experience the teaching of science is very rare in many different placements I have been in. There is so much time required for the other curriculum so I may see a science lesson every other week. Of the science lesson I have seen in the past, the ones that students are engaged most in are those that they are exploring. The less worksheets the better I think. Having them create a way of doing something to promote and praise mistakes is the only way they are going to learn. Take risks and when in doubt you will learn from a mistake and better the lesson for the next time. 


Brittany Alao Brittany Alao 580 Points

I certainly can empathize with you on this matter. I have been teaching Social Studies for my first year. Science is my second content area, but I do not feel as comfortable with it. 

Erica Herold Erica Herold 735 Points

When I was in middle school and high school, science seemed scary and unaccomplishable to me. Now that I teach middle school science, I go out of my way to teach students that sometimes things look scary and unaccomplishable, but that doesn't mean that they are. I integrate a lot of Social-Emotional Learning practices into my classroom by naming what emotions students might be feeling during a lesson (scared, nervous, anxious, etc.), explaining they are not the only ones that feel that way, and demonstrating how I can help them. 

I also love pointing out student progress in retrospect. For example, 'Umm... wasn't it you that told me you would never in a million years be able to complete one of these and now you just did three on your own? You are so amazing!' 

Madalyne Young Madalyne Felton 2230 Points

Hi Erica! I'm an elementary education major and I really appreciate your comment! I think it is so important to create a safe learning environment for students. You certainy accomplish this by integrating social-emotional learning! I also love the way that you point out to students their progress! I will definitely be doing this when I start teaching! 

Ashley Gregory Ashley Gregory 815 Points

This year I was as a student teacher and had the opportunities to work with a 1st and 4th grade classroom. In both grade levels, anything we did for science was very hands-on and minimal worksheet assignments. We did science at least once a week in each grade. Assignments would include interactive experiments, videos, or observations. We did a lot of experiments and usually did some kind of record sheet with them, created books, or anything to take away from the lesson. It's always important to rememeber to try and connect the lesson to their real-world experiences. We did lessons about states of matter and tried to see which way would melt a solid ice cube the quickest, created slime to demonstrate the conservation of matter, what plants need to grow, plant life cycle, metamorphosis and more. All of these lessons were very interactive and hands on. With younger grades they can be more observational and hands on but the higher grades you can add in other fun things like interactive notebooks for them to keep track of what they're doing. It's always a great idea to try to get outside and incorprate their environment as much as you can!

Brittany Wolford Brittany Wolford 1162 Points

I am in field placement, so I'm not yet student teaching, but my mentor teacher has done one science lesson the whole time I've been there (1 day a week for 5 weeks now). She was teaching about planets and the orbits around the sun. She had the students draw out of a hat a planet and some had the asteroid belt since that also orbits the sun. They all went outside and she acted as the sun while all the students circled around her in the grassy field at the proper distances. It was really fun for them, and they were engaged in the activities beforehand since they knew they had something to look forward to. My point is it doesn't have to be something super intricately designed. Make it something outside, out of the classroom, out of their seats, give them something tangible that's not just paper and pencil. Make them move around and build and interact with each other and it will be a better lesson than those we have received as kids. 

Madalyne Young Madalyne Felton 2230 Points

Hi Brittany! I really like that activity! I think it would be really fun and engaging for kids! I also think it would greatly help them put distance into perspective. When we say 'millions of miles'  that can be so hard for students to comprehend (especially since pictures of the solarsystem always depict plants (somewhat) close to one another. Having the students spread out proportionaly to what the actual distance between the plants are is awesome. I also think that could be an opportunity to incorporate math into the science lesson! 

Madalyne Young Madalyne Felton 2230 Points

Hi Brittany! I really like that activity! I think it would be really fun and engaging for kids! I also think it would greatly help them put distance into perspective. When we say 'millions of miles'  that can be so hard for students to comprehend (especially since pictures of the solarsystem always depict plants (somewhat) close to one another. Having the students spread out proportionaly to what the actual distance between the plants are is awesome. I also think that could be an opportunity to incorporate math into the science lesson! 

Hannah Moore Hannah Moore 855 Points

I have not yet graduated, but my most recent student teaching cooperating teacher has stressed that I don't need to stress about knowing all of the content. She explained that when she was hired for 5th grade math that she had to relearn alot of math as she taught throughout the year. I think reviewing standards and objectives can help you get an idea about topics you could get more comfortable with. I think this is a great website as there are tons on resources on NSTA. I would just advice you to give yourself some grace and learn as you go. Eventually you will feel comfotable and more confident in your content knowledge. We all start somewhere!

Kayla Cavazos Kayla Cavazos 845 Points

I am also a future teacher and have the same concerns! It is scary thinking to think about a student asking you a question and not having the answer. This thread gave me some reassurance that it is okay to not know everything and having a good lesson prepared is always helpful! 

Alicia Koszyk Alicia Koszyk 600 Points

I think the best approach is to have many lessons be hands on! Some fun and interesting experiements I have seen are on science buddies!

Katie Weldy Katie Weldy 160 Points

Hi there, 

I think the best approach to make sure that whatever you are teaching is fun and exciting! I can guarantee that the students will just go with the flow if the topic is engaging and fun! Being confident while teacher will also be helpful because then the studnets will feel your confidence and want to be confident too!

Brenna Egendoerfer Brenna Egendoerfer 410 Points

Making the lessons enjoyable and interactive is something the students really seem to enjoy. It captures their attention and they truly will enjoy learning. This way they will get the most benefit of the lesson retain more information.

Bailey Dant Bailey Dant 435 Points

Hi! I am currently a junior in college studying education and the biggest take away I have learned from this semester is that science is EVERYWHERE! It does not have to be hard or complex, even taking a trip outside to record observations is a great way to incorporate science into your daily routine. I read an article on the NSTA website about weather. Instead of having children just look out of the window to describe the weather, have them go outside and write in their journal, record the tempature, and experience the weather instead of just looking at it. 

Jennifer Hamm Jennifer Hamm 730 Points

As a future educator, I have really noticed that hands on learning is a great way to make science fun. When creating a lesson, make sure that you are going to have as much fun teaching it as you expect your students to have fun learning it. If the students see that you are enjoying the lesson, they are also going to enjoy it and be more engaged. 

Violet Gunter Violet Gunter 210 Points


I think one of the biggest things when it comes to creating enjoyable science lessons, is finding/creating science lesson that you enjoy teaching. If you are not enjoying what you are teaching, then chances are, you students also will not enjoy it either. One of the easiest ways to know if your lessons are providing students with the knowledge they need is going to the your academic standards and using their framework for science. They have all kinds off different lessons that align with the standards and from the ones I have looked at, are so much fun! 

Paige Neff Paige Neff 730 Points

Something I have learned from subbing and having to teach a science lesson is to have fun with it. Let students know that making a mistake in science is not the end of the world but a way to learn. Students need to know that in science it is okay not to be perfect. Make sure you let your students know that anyone can be good at science. 

Hannah Salaiz Hannah Salaiz 1430 Points

Julie! I am also in my final year of my education program and am on track to graduate in the Spring! It is important to tie in prior knowledge and student experiences, especially in science. By being able to relate to the lesson, students are more likely to develop a deeper understanding of the content. 

Elisha Elias Elisha Elias 245 Points

Dear new teachers,

Please do not think that I am presuming to know the answers. This post came about because I am working on my dissertation proposal for a mixed-methods study on job satisfaction of induction-level middle-grade science teachers. Just wanted to reassure those of you with concerns that you know far more than you realize.

I have experience with the science curriculum at the middle school level and can confirm that teaching science has come a long way. Before it was more rigid and controlled, but now that we are encouraged to use inquiry-based learning students can learn to use and practice their problem-solving skills. You do not need to know all the answers. That was the biggest leap for the older teachers to take. We had to learn to understand that students should be allowed to get there without us telling them every step of the way. We now get to ask the questions. This is the beauty of the backward design. Start with the end in mind.  You will see those aha moments and when days are tough, those are the moments that make you want to continue.

Ashley Konjura Ashley Konjura 175 Points

I loved the points you made about discovering alongside students! It is important to foster inquiry in the classroom, even if you do not know the answers yourself. By discovering alongside students, you set the example for scientific discovery and explanation in the classroom. I agree that it is important to help foster this love and excitement for science learning by drawing on students' natural wonders and curiosities about the world and the ways in which it works! 

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