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How Can We Improve American Science Education?

HOME / THE HIVE: American Science Education / Scientific Research as Creative Ingenuity: From Cookbook to Empowerment


Scientific Research as Creative Ingenuity: From Cookbook to Empowerment

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As a recent public high school graduate, I know, from personal experience, that high school science labs involve tedious, cookbook-style work that is far removed from what a scientist actually does on a day-to-day basis. Moreover, science classes often promote rote memorization over the truly empowering reality of scientific research as creative ingenuity.

It's not hard to see why this is a problem. Kids are naturally curious about the world--they are hands-on learners, and born explorers. Let them roam intellectually as scientists do every day, and we channel this curiosity towards creating a new generation of thinkers, explorers, engineers, and inventors. Sit them down to follow a step-by-step recipe, and we stifle it.

Thus, my answer is simple: expose students to scientific research--expose them early and often. Let them unleash their open minds and innate talent for problem-solving against the world's most pressing questions.

There have already been substantially successful--if anecdotal-- examples of this in practice. A biology class of 8- to 10-year olds in the UK, for instance, actually published on their work in the Royal Society Journal! (More on this can be found here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/12/21/eight-year-old-children-publish-bee-study-in-royal-society-journal/)

In essence, we need to demonstrate to our students that true science is not about being told what the “correct answer” is; science, after all, is about not knowing all of the answers, and instead using one’s creativity to arrive at a novel solution. That's what kids are great at. Such a mindset is, frankly, empowering, and will make studying science not a chore, but a passion.


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