Science? Outside the Classroom? Yes Please!

Science Outside

Science can be a tricky subject to teach. Especially to the younger kiddies! We want to ensure they have a good understanding of the things they see around them. But we don’t want to bore the pants off them! Is there really a way that we can encourage children to take more of an interest in science?

Take it outside!

Yes, taking it outside (science, that is) can help to inspire a new outlook on what science means in relation to a child’s world. Using the real world around them can be more engaging than the regular ol’ classroom. Let them create their own lines of inquiry based on what they can see outside. “Why does this type of caterpillar always stay on this plant? Does it eat other things? How can I find out?” Lots of great and interesting questions are easily thought of as soon as you get the kids outdoors.

I’m not reeeeally sure how to encourage questioning…

Questions in science are actually some of the easiest to wangle out of the kids. A lot of them are open-ended, so they don’t always require a straight forward answer. Focus instead on getting them to explain and discuss what they are observing. Science teaching and learning involves a lot of discussion. If you work in an ESL environment, a science based topic can really help encourage some effective communication. Get them talking about what they can see, and sooner or later the questions will come. If there really is no response then start asking some of your own – see if they respond with answers or create some new thoughts along the way.

But wait, I have no outdoor play area!

Yes, unfortunately that can be an issue. Especially here in Hong Kong where space is limited (I’m feeling it). So, you’ll have to be a bit more creative when you think of the term ‘outside’. It doesn’t have to refer to the great outdoors. It could simply mean a change of scenery that encourages the children to think in a new way. You could take them into a different classroom, into the school hall or even in to the kitchen if you have one. Let them think of inquiries based on the other children in school, the teachers or the school equipment (now there’s a ramp experiment waiting to happen).

I love science! It opens so many great ways to connect kids with the world. It’s an excellent communication enhancer and can engage children in such a unique way. So, give it a go! Get the children outside the classroom and see what you can come up with!