Science as a subject allows people to dive into the facts and improve their understanding of the natural world and how it works. The inquisitive nature of science has inspired discoveries which, in turn, have allowed the human race to change the world at an increasingly rapid pace. The ability to ask ‘how’ or ‘why’ a process has happened is the fuel that pushes science forward every single day. This process of scientific inquiry, known as the ‘Scientific Method’, can be transferred into all fields of life, with observation and reflection used to better ourselves as a result.
A great example of this process is the discovery of penicillin from the ‘godfather of microbiology’, Sir Alexander Fleming. He discovered that after leaving a sandwich on his desk when he went on vacation, a small area of the sandwich had not grown any bacteria or mould. The drive to discover why this occurred provoked the research process, which ultimately resulted in the creation of antibiotics, which now saves millions of lives each year. Without Sir Fleming observing this natural phenomenon, and using his observations to drive further research, the production of antibiotics may never have occurred, or perhaps would have required many years and unnecessary deaths to discover.
Science education in schools has moved on from the teacher-centered approach seen in a traditional classroom, to focus on facilitating student-led enquiry. Within Huili School Hangzhou science lessons, this student-led approach can be observed in many forms, from independent student research to whole-class practical investigations. Ultimately, the aim is to inspire students to discover science themselves, and inspire them to reach for further knowledge in areas that interest them.
As teachers of science we yearn for those ‘wow’ moments in every lesson; those moments where we see the pupils developing a real passion for the subject. Enquiry-based learning teaches pupils how to solve problems for themselves, deal with problems as they arise and understand the ‘why’ or the ‘how’ by discovering the answer for themselves; something much more satisfying that having it fed to them by a teacher.
Many studies that describe levels of learning, such as Blooms or Anderson’s taxonomy, demonstrate that the ability to apply knowledge to many different situations shows a high level of learning. In order to maximise learning we need to extend enquiry to beyond the classroom, giving pupils an opportunity to apply their knowledge in situations that happen around them. It is not sufficient to simply read information or hear it from a teacher. This only helps pupils retain the information for a short period of time. Being able to internalise information and use it continually is enabled when children can use their knowledge in practical applications.
We hope that you will support our first annual Science Week and discuss with your children the educational and scientific fun they have taken part in during the week.