Thursday, May 7, 2009
Science is interesting when concepts are discovered through observation, experimentation, analysis of results and drawing inferences. Learning a concept through discovery is meaningful and lasting for a learner.
It is no doubt easier for a facilitator to lecture a concept using a slide show or the board as a teaching aid but how much of the concept is internalized is a question to be pondered. Students may be able to spout the theory or law but will be unable to apply the concept to a different situation.
Experiential learning on the other hand opens windows to new learning helping students connect, relate, hypothesize and apply.
At Inventure Primary school, learning science through discovery is the mantra. One would wonder how concepts can be discovered by students. Well, they are discovered through experiential activities provided by the facilitator.
Here is an example. Fifth grade students need to learn the uses of air pressure. One of these is that air pressure helps to propel objects. This is understood best when the student can observe, relate and infer.
How was the concept learned in grade 5?
Students were divided into groups. Each group was given a balloon, a straw, a string, papers, coloured pencils, scissors, scotch tape, cloth peg and two chairs. The only instruction given to the students were that they needed to use all the materials given to them and make the balloon into a bird and make it fly. The students worked in groups. They were engrossed in trying out various techniques and to arrive at a viable solution. It was amazing to see that one group made an interesting observation. They noticed that for every small amount of air released from the balloon the balloon traveled an equal distance, in the opposite direction. Unknowingly the students had arrived at Newton’s third law of motion. Each group of students then presented their observation, hypothesis and inference. Through this activity students exercised their interpersonal, logical, linguistic and spatial intelligences.
Learning through the activity was not only fun but also meaningful helping the student observe, analyze, hypothesize and infer completing the cycle of learning. Such a learning experience is memorable , developing the desire in each child to explore and become independent learners.