You should encourage your students to take their scientific studies outside of the classroom. Here's how you can get them to try activities outside of school.
As a science teacher, it's clear that you have a passion for science. One of the most rewarding accomplishments you could enjoy is seeing the same spark of passion in your students.
What if we told you there were more ways to do that than you think?
For the students in your class and your community, you can give them opportunities to expand their learning outside the classroom. Try these ideas for learning experiences and activities outside of school.
1. Found a Young Scientists' Group
Kids have several options for after-school activities, but many of them are similar. If a child doesn't enjoy sports or social clubs, they don't have many options.
You can open that door for the science-minded kids by starting a young scientists' group or another science-based club.
Websites like Meetup make it easy to arrange and plan your club's outings. Whether you offer it to the students at your school or to all the kids in your community, start small and give the group a chance to grow.
This gives kids a way to expand their science knowledge beyond what the curriculum calls for. You can help them conduct their own experiments and learn about new subjects they may love.
2. Host a Science Night at School
Sometimes the key to getting kids involved in something is to get adults involved too. A great way to do this is by hosting a science night.
Science Night is a time when kids get to show off their science knowledge for their parents. Kids can form their own teams to give demonstrations and presentations on the topics of their choice.
You can do this for the entire school, with each student group showcasing a different scientific concept. Connecting science to that sense of pride can change the way your students feel about science altogether.
3. Boost Your Own Science Teaching Skills
Teaching is one of those skills we can always improve, no matter who you are. In some cases, your own teaching ability is what can inspire your students to continue their learning.
Start looking for continuing education, local seminars, and other ways to boost your skills. You can even take advantage of web-based learning opportunities like the SciComm Summit.
This summit helps you improve your science communication skills. It gives you the tools to explain scientific concepts to kids in a more relatable and inspiring way.
4. Get On Board with a Summer Camp
Summer camps used to be about roasting s'mores and hiking through the woods. Today, they're far more varied.
Modern summer camps aim to be well-rounded opportunities for growth for kids of all ages. They offer sessions with a wide range of topics, from cooking to metal-working and, yes, science.
You can start by getting involved in a local summer camp and working with them to develop a science program. If there isn't one in your area, it's all the more reason for you to step forward.
You could talk to your school's administration or your PTA about starting a summer camp. Whether it's an overnight camp or a day camp, you'll have the chance to give students an enriching science experience.
5. Start a Science Fair
All you need to do is watch any children's sporting event to see that kids have a natural competitive streak. You can appeal to that competitive streak to get them more interested in science.
A perfect way to do this is by starting a science fair.
Your students will have the opportunity to delve further into any scientific topic they choose. They'll be able to investigate a subject for themselves and exercise their creativity to find a way to show what they've learned.
Arrange for a group of judges to determine the winning exhibits so students have something to strive for.
6. Give Kids Opportunities for Extra Credit
Extra credit is a controversial topic among teachers. If you use it the right way, though, it can be a truly enriching experience.
Give your students extra credit opportunities that aren't just more of their bookwork. Make the assignments more interactive and unique, like safe science experiments to do at home.
This serves two purposes. First, it allows kids who may be struggling with bookwork to gain credit through more hands-on types of learning. Second, it lets kids get their hands dirty and experience the joy of science in real life rather than reading about it in a textbook.
7. Take Advantage of New Technology
Kids love using technology, and you can use that to your advantage.
Give kids homework assignments that give them a chance to work their technical muscles.
For example, give kids a project that allows them to film science-related YouTube videos. They could be demonstrating a certain concept or performing a live experiment.
There are a few details to keep in mind, though. First, make sure parents give their consent before kids post any videos.
Second, consider that some students have intense anxiety about appearing on camera. You could offer the video as one of two options students have for a long-term assignment.
8. Connect Careers to Science
As a teacher, you've probably heard that one question over and over: "Why do we have to learn this?"
There's no better way to answer that question than to connect it to your students' futures. Fortunately, any career your students choose will involve science in some way.
Set up a "career day" or "career week" event in your classroom. Choose different careers and explain how they use science.
For example, engineering is an easy and popular choice. For students who want to go into the culinary arts, explain how heat causes chemical reactions while cooking food. You can even talk about chemical interactions in dyes that hairstylists need to know about.
If possible, survey your students first to find out what careers they're considering. Incorporate those careers into your event.
Not only does this make science more interesting and applicable to students, but it shows them why it's important for them to learn about it.
9. Think Outside the Box for Field Trips
Field trips are great ways for students to get out of the classroom and learn about the world around them. At a certain point, though, they become predictable.
If your students are tired of trips to the natural science museum, get creative with your field trip ideas. Find places they normally wouldn't connect to science.
For example, set up a nature walk with your students. As you walk through the trail, explain how different parts of the ecosystem are interacting together.
The zoo is another fun choice, especially if you're learning about biology. It's full of ways for you to discuss and show examples of various biological processes.
10. Connect Science to What Is Happening in the World
One of the largest reasons kids get bored in school is because they think the information they're learning is irrelevant. Every day is a new opportunity for you to show them how science matters.
Use events, holidays, and other occasions to explore new scientific topics.
For instance, during the fall, chances are that your students are drinking or eating something pumpkin spice-related on a weekly basis. Take a few minutes of class time to talk about the different spices in the typical "pumpkin spice" combo. Explain the effects each of them can have on the body.
During the spring, the brightening environment is a great learning opportunity too. Talk about the process of how perennial plants come out of dormancy and what they're doing at that very moment.
11. Have Kids Start a Science Journal
Sometimes the best way to get kids to see science around them is to have them look for it rather than telling them outright.
You can do this with a science journal. Have each student keep a notebook? At certain times or points throughout the day, have students stop and look around them.
Require them to jot down a few ways they see science in action around them.
For example, let's say this time falls at the end of one student's football practice. They might jot down the photosynthesis that keeps the turf grass alive. They could also list how their body is producing sweat or how the metal bleachers are conducting heat from the sun.
Incorporating Science into Kids' Lives and Activities Outside of School
People who aren't teachers often don't realize it because they don't sit down to do the math. In reality, though, we have very limited time to teach a lot of information to students in a constantly crowded environment. In that situation, it's difficult to inspire kids to move beyond their textbooks and love science in "real life."
These ideas can help you show kids how science is relevant to their activities outside of school.
If you want to take it a step further and teach science to a wider group of people, learn more about our online courses.