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What would your middle schooler like to see in science education?

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I originally asked this on the AL board, but this is probably a more appropriate place. DD was asked at a conference this past week what she would suggest to a prospective middle school science teacher to do to improve science education and get kids more engaged in science. Since DD hasn't been in a middle school science class, she really didn't know how to answer, so she wanted to get ideas from other kids, for the next time it comes up.


So, what do your kids want to see in science classes, especially in those middle grades years? What turns them off to science? What encourages them to get involved? What do they want to tell their science teacher?

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This is what my daughter says, based on an excellent experience last year in grade 6, and a boring experience this year in grade 7:


Individual research projects and presentations on specific topics of interest within the broad topic that the teacher assigns

Hands-on projects, especially building things using scientific principles (last year they made a Ferris wheel and a motorized gadget)--but cut and paste activities don't count!!

Science experiments (even if they are really simple)

Doesn't like:

Taking class time to read the textbook together or listen to the teacher read from the textbook (I can't believe they are still doing that in this day and age!)


Best wishes to your daughter!


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As a parent of a 6th grader, my input would be to re-think how the science fair is done.

Don't give the kids only 4 days to come up with their entire experiment and then 3 months to complete it. Let them spend more class time exploring ideas, and learning about how to design an experiment. And I'm tired of seeing the 'winners' being kids whose parent's bought lots of cool stuff even though the 'experiment' design is flawed.

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Hands-on science is great, but for some kids, it would be great to have literature suggestions that help science concepts come to life.


As for what turns them off, getting penalized (grade-wise) for not thinking exactly like the textbook / test writers.

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Our (ds and mine) biggest complaint about middle school science is that it's just a rerun of the same topics covered since toddlerhood, but with more work. (And somewhat more detail!)


Even the popular 'fun' science demonstrations - when you've seen/done them every year since you were 4, it's very boring to do them again when you are 12.


Ds says no science is interesting in middle school (!!!). His idea is that you stop doing science when you are tired of it, about 10, and then do it again properly in high school.


This is probably of no help to you whatsoever. I'm sorry!

That's kind of what we did-skipped from elementary school "big pile of books and science kits to play with" to doing fieldwork and working through high school science to fill in gaps. I think that's one reason why the question so floored DD-because from her POV, she didn't do middle school science.

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