By Teachers, For Teachers
As educators, we know that STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is the wave of the future. In the past decade, jobs that require routine skills have decreased, while technically centered jobs have dramatically increased. As President Obama fights hard to increase the number of students to be proficient in STEM fields, we as teachers have an important role in promoting and finding out how to motivate students to excel in science. By raising its profile and increasing student participation, we can ensure that the youth of today will have a successful tomorrow.
Here are a few strategies that will help you learn how to motivate students to enjoy science, and highlight the relevance that science has on our students’ lives.
The public image of science is rather negative. Part of the problem is due to the image of nerdy scientists in old films and textbooks. In order to changes society’s view, teachers can portray what science has done thus far, by relating the subject back to something that interests them. For older students, try discussing popular TV shows such as “CSI” that incorporate forensics. For younger minds, you can conduct fun experiments or use hands-on apps.
When students see a teacher who is passionate, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic about science, it will resonate with them.
Experts believe that in order for students to stay interested in science long term, they must be involved with the subject by fourth grade. You can nurture this attraction to science by making it fun and interesting—hands-on experiments and programs like DragonFly TV combines interactive media with textbook knowledge for the K-12 audience.
An essential element to turning students on to science is to show them how it’s used in their daily lives. Science is behind the creation of their cellphones, tablets, and videogames—let your classroom explore and understand how this subject matter touches more in their day-to-day activities than they think.
Along the same exploration track, you can create contests that encourage your children to use science to generate a design that may peak their interest. For example, most students love playing on their smartphones and tablets—challenge your classroom to create an app that they’d use every day. You could even turn this into a friendly, group competition. This opportunity may be just the motivator to keep them students interested in a STEM field.
It can be quite difficult to get students to be interested in science when your only resource is a textbook. Sites like Donors Choose created a platform for teachers to request funding for supplementary classroom technology. You can request science stations, iPads, computers, and such to help promote STEM education and get (and keep) students captivated.
The best way to spark interest in science is to bring it to life with exciting experiments. Younger students will be memorized by glowing water, or how specific items float or sink whereas the older crowd will benefit from observing a mock crime scene. When students “do” science they are more apt to be excited about it.
You can develop student interest in science by enhancing their natural curiosity and connecting science to their daily lives. To help students develop an even deeper understanding (and form questions of their own), we can create new explorative and creative opportunities to ensure that our students will be able thrive in the many years beyond their scholarly career.
How do you motivate students to love science? Do you have any tricks or tips that you would like to share? Feel free to leave a comment in the section below. We would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.