Skip to content

How do you make kids love Science? You don’t

26 Aug 2021

b

Archana (right) demonstrating a science concept by keeping a ball aloft with a hairdryer.

Don’t set out to make them love anything as that is a sure-fire way to put them off, says Archana Chawla, microbiologist and senior educator at Science Centre Singapore.

Instead, engage them by tapping into their innate characteristics. Here, Archana’s 5 tips for 3-10-year-olds. 

How do you make kids love science? You don’t

Don’t set out to make them love anything as that is a sure-fire way to put them off, says Archana Chawla, microbiologist and senior educator at Science Centre Singapore.

Instead, engage them by tapping into their innate characteristics. Here, Archana’s 5 tips for 3-10-year-olds.

1. Get them intrigued

Children are naturally curious, so trigger that curiosity and then wait and watch. You may be really keen to share the wonders of science with the kid, but hold your horses. Give them time to process things, for every child’s curiosity unfolds in its own time. Forcing the learning pace of the child can disrupt their flow of thought and impair their inspiration and understanding. 

For example, say you have set up an electrical circuit kit. You ask: “What is this?” In your excitement to share this moment with your child, you may blurt out, “It’s an electrical circuit!” This does not give kids the time to comprehend it for themselves.

Instead, let kids take ownership of their learning. Give them time to take in the different parts of the circuit, observe their reaction (if any) when the bulb lights up and engage them with expressions of curiosity about the causes. Work with their interests – and ask open- ended questions like “What do you think made the bulb light up?”

In a nutshell: Parents, take a step back and take the cue from your child.

2. Make it about them

Making science palatable and accessible for kids is key. What does this mean? This is about connecting the concept to the kids’ everyday experiences. This will bring out a quicker and deeper understanding of a science concept.

For example, when you talk about ‘energy’, that word can come across as overly technical to a kid. But when you connect it to an activity they enjoy, they will get it.

For instance, while playing with them with a ball, ask: “What happens when you throw the ball? If you throw it really hard, what happens? Why does the ball go a longer distance?”

3. Keep it fun

Kids learn exceptionally well when they are having fun. The innate urge to play from infancy is the best way to work out how the world works. The power of play simply cannot be overstated.

So, here’s an example of a challenge that you can throw to your kids: Use a hair dryer to keep a ball afloat. They are sure to play along  – trying to simulate a similar outcome as they grab the hair dryer, switch it on and strive to keep the ball afloat using all manner of creativity.

And once you have their attention, ask a few probing questions to get them to think of the science underpinning this fun experience.

Whatever you do, don’t turn this into a lesson on gravity. It’s about having fun (with science).

4. Show your passion

Your enthusiasm counts. When you speak about science or any topic with energy or conviction, your tone and body language evoke a powerful response from your child .

It’s said that over 50% of the meaning in our communication is conveyed through body language. So, when speaking with your child, be fully present and show your enthusiasm – whether by leaning in to show you are listening or acknowledging what your child is saying with nods.

So, if you are talking about energy, for example, and your child says, “Mummy gives me chocolate and I get a lot of energy!” reflect that enthusiasm back to the kid with a simple response like “Ahh, yes, that does give you a lot of energy, doesn’t it! How do you know that?”

Kids are especially sensitive and if they perceive even the slightest drop in your energy or passion in your body language, words and tone, their level of engagement with you can quickly nose-dive.

5. Get them thinking

Once you’ve got their attention, leave them with something to think about. Here’s an example: You could say, “You know when you are standing at a pedestrian crossing and a large vehicle rushes by, do you feel like something is pulling you in? Why do you think that happens?”

The point is that science should not be communicated with an end in mind. It should have a continuation – ideally one that inspires kids to think about what they have learnt – even after the interaction has ended.

As Archana, puts it: “Kids will only love science, when they own science.” What does that mean exactly? Try these tips and see.

By Thomas Danny Jeyaseelan, Media & Communications Manager, Science Centre Singapore