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Ideas to Help Students Get Excited About Science & Math

Re-posted from Michelle's Weebly blog

Well, the holiday season is here! With it comes the end of another semester, which means report cards will be issued in time for the New Year's holiday! Many kids and teens struggle with Math and Science. For some of them, it is that these two subjects just don't interest them as much as activities like P.E. or lunch/recess time. For other students, they struggle in these two subjects because they may be more linguistic (verbal) or kinesthetic (active/physical) learners. Or, they may just be stronger in other classes due to interpersonal issues with teachers and other pupils in those classes. Recently, I discovered two tidbits of news that made me intrigued and excited about new learning frontiers in Math and Science. As a teacher and tutor in secondary education with many years of experience (even though I've generally been a Language/Lit/Social Studies/Health teacher), it seems that more and more importance is placed on state standardized test scores, especially in Math and Science...while less and less emphasis is placed on getting a well-rounded education across the boards. This leaves parents and teachers in a prickly situation. How do we keep our children and teens invested in classes in a fun, creative way that will encourage them to become life-long learners? In my opinion, one of the best things we can do is encourage students, starting in Pre-K or younger, to love being read to and reading. There is great joy and pride to be found for people of all ages in educating themselves in new subjects through reading a wide variety of books. One other idea to try is to find teachable moments (again, speaking not just to teachers here, but also to parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents)...meaning that if a moment that could result in a positive learning experience presents itself, why not take advantage of it? One teeny example is giving kids something to do at the grocery store. Why not give them a calculator (or pencil and notebook if they need to work on their number crunching skills) to help with family budgeting? They can add up what the groceries will cost and, depending on their level of Math and/or age, even figure out tax on any taxable items in the grocery cart. Then, at checkout, they can see just how close they were to the actual number on the receipt. Recently, I found two more ways to get kids more excited about Math and Science. I will add here that this could also be an option for educators who do cooperative team teaching activities to get kids writing across the curriculum. I will share links with more information and articles about the topics below. The first got me so excited, I had to check it out for myself! It is a new project for "Citizen Scientists" of all ages and levels of education, anywhere in the world, and is a cooperative effort between the Woods Hole research center staff in Massachusetts and researchers in Scotland. The project is open to anyone who wants to help and has to do with whales...pilot whales and orcas (killer whales) to be exact. It is called "Whale FM." Scientists are trying to determine if various, unrelated whale groups (called pods) can communicate, even if they are from different areas. By listening for similarities in whale songs and noises, we can find out if the multiple "dialects" of whale sounds that arise in several regions of the ocean are similar enough to communicate with whales that are not from the same group. It is EASY and FREE to join the project...and it will help the world to learn more about whales...which will help marine biologists and animal behaviorists to then help the whales themselves and maybe even other sea mammals in the long run. So, why not get kids involved in this worthy undertaking?! It is a way to get them excited about areas like life science, biology, marine biology, zoology, ecology, conservation, animal behavior, technology, listening skills...and really, I suppose, even music...a valuable subject that can actually improve mathematics scores and comprehension...a subject that is unfortunately being cut out of many school programs all around the country due to ongoing budget issues. The other wonderful and FREE program I have discovered is called Kahn Academy. An absolute genius started this program. It is grant funded...and again...FREE to all who use it. Basically, this is an online program that teaches in both traditional and non-traditional ways for mathematics and the sciences. It uses U-Tube videos and the web to help techno-savy learners from elementary classrooms up through high school and college to learn and better understand complex concepts in Math and Science. There are currently 35 schools around the country trying out this program, integrating it into their curriculum as an experiment in an effort to see how much it helps kids to get excited about learning the material, to understand the material...and of course, to hopefully keep test scores in Math and Science on the rise. I LOVE both of these programs and have recommended them to just about anyone who will listen at this point. So, now I'm sharing them with you as well, in the hopes that it helps those having trouble in Math or Science to get pumped up about these subjects and to help them improve their comprehension, too. Here are the links: Whale FM Article: Whale FM Website: Kahn Academy Article: Don't hesitate to contact us through the website: or or to email us if you have any questions about your child's education...or for teachers looking for classroom ideas. Happy holidays from Michelle at Harmony Way! :)

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