The BookBus Science program started a year and a half ago with hands-on lessons on plant biology. Since then, the module has been worked and reworked and is now part ofa bigger pool of lessons. During each lesson, we spend the first few minutes reviewing what they already know. This comes very easy to the students. They diligently rattle off definitions memorized from textbooks. We then ask them, “Have you used it in your life?” Unless the textbook has a set of examples, the students are usually stumped.
No matter which school we go to, most students perceive science as a bunch of facts they need to memorize and reproduce in exams.The students learn to forget the explanations and examples their teachers give in the pursuit of good scores. We think science shouldn’t be hard for children and we treat them as little scientists who are discovering the world. But the curiosity that should be inherent in studying science often gives way to the fear of the subject in the classrooms.
Whenever we go into a classroom, we try to leave behind a memorable experience that challenges both the students and teachers to rethink their definitions of science and how it ought to be studied. Our experiments are targeted to get them thinking about the scientific method of questioning, hypothesizing, experimenting, observing, analyzing and then coming to a conclusion. We help them comprehend how ‘facts’ in their textbooks land there from years of people like them using the scientific method. Throughout the workshop we stress that questions are good, as are wrong answers, whether it’d be through ice-breakers or by being mindful about how we handle their questions. We engage their senses and let them come to the conclusions through the observations they make.
Written by Nasala Chitrakar, Coordinator for the Book Bus Science Program