Scientific Inquiry sounds complex, too complex for young students. It makes us think of intricate instruments and computer simulations, pages of data, and long, involved mathematical equations. Scientific Inquiry can involve all of those things, but at its root scientific inquiry is the way that scientists see the natural world. It is the collection of qualitative and quantitative data and the use of that data to explain how the natural world works. Scientific Inquiry, far from being foreign to children, is the way children naturally learn–they play and experiment, they see what happens, and they build their own rules and expectations about how the world works.
Why teach our youngest learners about physical science? Isn’t physical science really advanced, covering things like E=mc2 and Newton’s laws of gravity?
Yes, physical science can be really advanced, but a lot of physical science has to do with how the world around us works. Kindergarten through Grade 2 students may not understand Einstein’s theories, but they know from experience how gravity works–even if they don’t know the name for it.
Your youngest students naturally have a keen interest in life science. From an early age they may follow a bug’s progress across the floor, laugh in delight at the antics of their kitten, or watch in wonder as the tiny pea they planted in the garden produces food for their plate.
Because of their interest, students often begin this unit of study with a large body of knowledge that they can build on. Life science study provides a perfect opportunity for students to practice some more complex skills that they will need in all areas of their science learning.
Earth and Space are vast and complex topics. Are they too complex for Kindergarten through Grade Two learners? Not if we capture their imagination with giant prehistoric creatures, a night sky full of twinkling stars, and pouring rain that leaves behind puddles to stomp in. We can help even the youngest students begin building their knowledge of Earth and space by starting with children’s interest and knowledge. Techniques such as animation, comparisons to the modern world, games, and interactive activities, also help students become involved and invested in their studies of our ancient planet and vast solar system.