Next to math, science is one of those things parents worry about teaching the most. I will admit to some trepidation myself. It seems like such a vast, broad field after all.
But here’s the thing to remember: as with history, most science curricula you purchase (if you purchase one at all – we do and we love it) is quite useless. When you know this and accept it, teaching science becomes much, much easier.
Let me explain.
Science is about Inquiry
The basic tenet of science, if you will, is the same as a Google search: “Let’s find out.” We frame the question, get information, see if it fits, reframe the question with new and old available information and reach a potential answer.
Unfortunately, with science curricula, we sometimes get the idea that there is a specific body of facts we have to know and if we don’t know that (or don’t agree with it), we don’t know science. The corollary is that if we know that specific body of facts and accept them as complete truth, we are somehow now wedded to science and everything we say about it is, in fact, absolute truth.
Neither one of these perspectives is true.
How to Teach Science
While we love our curriculum, we don’t mistake it for fact. As someone who has spent hours researching the data on food in general and carbohydrates in particular, the idea of “settled science” does not appeal to me. (Read about Ancel Keys and Gary Taubes for a taste, pun intended.)
And while it is important to know some facts just as with history, it is even more important in science to be able to put them in perspective and think through them logically.
Also, consider that SATs and ACTs do not actually ask for science “facts” but only that the student can think like a scientist.
So you see there’s nothing to fear. As long as you’re willing to make mistakes and let your children be willing to make mistakes, experiment and find out, as long as you’re willing to research and abandon ideas that don’t logically follow, knowing that there is a long line of people who have done exactly the same thing before you, you’re good to go.