How to Spark Scientific Inquiry in a Child
Children have an innate sense of curiosity to know more about their surroundings, which is often revealed as a plethora of questions bombarded at an adult. How can we nurture this spark of enthusiasm and scientific inquiry in a child as teachers?
Kristine Burke, Science Teacher Certification student in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England, has some ideas to offer. She identifies the starting point as “cognitive dissonance” and offers a few suggestions:
- Start with a challenge to solve a problem; trigger curiosity. Identify ways in which one can challenge the minds of students.
- Create questions in students’ minds that they are hungry to answer. Play to their misconceptions.
- Keep science messy by allowing room for confusion and gray areas and also provide time for “research” within the class to enhance participation.
Reflection is the key,” Burke says. “This isn’t just about asking them to think back on their opinion of the topic. It’s about creating a time and a place for students to reflect on the process itself.”
“Thinking about how they learned, not just what they learned, will allow them to apply this experience to future problem-solving challenges,” she adds. Creating time for “embedded assessment” will go a long way in keeping a child’s unique sense of wonder for the scientific world alive.