Why Science is 'The Best' For Practicing Language
- The scientific process is always the same. As you work on new projects you demonstrate how to take a single set of guidelines and implement them (it? Them sounds better) in different contexts. The more experiments you do, the more meaningful the method becomes.
- Science is chock-full of root words, concrete words, and new vocabulary.
- Science experiments create opportunities for all sorts of metalinguistic discussion.
- Making predictions as part of an experiment is a safe way to build confidence. Our students have experienced failure a lot in school, and open questions can be intimidating. This is a perfect opportunity for students to 'put themselves out there', since hypotheses can't exactly be right or wrong - they're just guesses.
- Students who have higher language skills can practice rationalization by connecting their predictions to information from the research. "I think X will happen because of Y". Making educated guesses as opposed to arbitrary guesses is an important but too often underrated skill. For students who aren't quite there yet, you can help model this by connecting their prediction with some sort of logic for them (even if it is a streeeeeetch).
- Students can be grouped up and assigned roles for collaboration. Most projects lend themselves to having at least a recorder, a moderator, and an executor. Students will practice cooperating, following instructions, having responsibility, and any number of social skills (turn taking, being agreeable, expected behaviors...)
- Even when students can't quite grasp the initial information, the experiment itself provides concrete reinforcement and meaning.
- Science gets people thinking. I have so many students who don't normally volunteer to participate in group discussions, but during science experiments they are full of "what ifs" and "lets try this".
- Science experiments are fun, exciting, and connect multiple sessions meaningfully.
- Science is always rooted in real life and can be made functional.
- Science experiments can be done with any age. From preschoolers putting items in water to see if they will float to high schoolers making potato batteries, science experiments can be tailored to any population.
Stay tuned for some ideas and materials for science experiments that I love!
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” - Carl Sagan