As we have seen in the last few years, there is waning trust in the scientific community. This is partly because many people don’t understand exactly how science works. To make sure that we rebuild we have to make sure that the next generations have a deep understanding of science and how it works.
There has been a lot of focus on college students learning more about science, but we need to start earlier. Teaching school-aged kids about the scientific method is a good way to lay a foundation of trust in how science works. They’ll learn how to think critically and be able to answer questions like “why is reproducibility important in science?”
In this article, we will go over what the scientific method is and how kids can understand it.
This is the first step in the scientific method. Scientists need to ask a question to understand how to proceed with a hypothesis. Since children are natural-born question-askers this is a logical place to start teaching them about how it works.
This presents you with a great exercise to go through with children to think of good questions to ask that have logical answers. They can then understand how to form questions that will take them through a process of discovery that encourages them to think ahead.
For instance, you could start by asking them a question and then see where it goes. Run a thought experiment by asking them which vehicle they think would be able to fly between a bicycle, car, or plane. They’ll of course answer a plane. This can then lead to many questions like “Why does a plane fly?”, and “How does a plane fly?”.
Continue on with this thought experiment by asking them to do some research about planes and flying. They can read about the history of flight and how humans have tried for years to learn to fly. This will help them understand what makes a plane fly.
This is an important part of the process because as they research they will have more questions.
Create a hypothesis
Now that they’ve asked and answered a few questions that led them to do some research they can start thinking about answers. Have them come up with a hypothesis of why they think that a plane can fly.
This will lead to them coming up with many ideas on why a plane is able to fly.
Do an experiment
Try to come up with an experiment with a model plane and then run it with the children. This will give them the opportunity to test the reason they think a plane can fly and observe the results.
Analyze the data
Whichever way you decide to structure the experiment will give them some data between the results in which a plane couldn’t fly and when it could. They can then try to draw some conclusions based on this data.
Share the results
Lastly, the children should share the results of their experiment with others so they can then try to replicate it and see if they get the same result. These are the keys to the scientific method and children can take these lessons with them the rest of their lives.