With a little intentionality and planning, social-emotional learning skills can be implemented into any content area.

5 science lessons that foster students’ social-emotional growth

With a little intentionality and planning, SEL skills can be implemented into any content area

It’s been said, “If a child can do advanced math, speak three languages, or receive top grades, but can’t manage their emotions, practice conflict resolution, or handle stress, none of that other stuff is really going to matter.

As an educator, I’ve witnessed the truth of this statement firsthand. Whether they’re pursuing a future career or simply playing on a school sports team, it’s imperative that students know how to work together with the people around them. But lessons on social-emotional learning aren’t typically found in a classroom syllabus. So, how do we as educators actively foster these qualities in our students?   

SEL skills can be implemented into any content area; it just takes a little intentionality and planning. By including aspects of SEL in hands-on, inquiry-based activities, we can help students develop these skills organically. Here are just a few science lessons where we intentionally taught social-emotional skills:          

Balloon Rockets: The Balloon Rockets investigation is an engineering design investigation where students are challenged to design a lightweight rocket that is able to carry the greatest payload possible. This task can prove difficult for students and requires careful planning and collaboration to accomplish, because of this, Relationship Skills is a great area to reflect on after this lesson. Have students reflect on their experience through a Collaboration Y Chart to explore how teamwork can impact their success. 

Lights Out: The Lights Out investigation is an engineering application that is completed after students complete the Light the Bulb experiment. Students learn not only how to light the light bulb, then use that knowledge to design, build and test a flashlight within set criteria and constraints. Because this is a sequence of investigations that could be run a few days in the class, students may be at different spots throughout the series and self-management is a very important skill to teach during more sustained inquiry experiences. Have students use Work Logs to keep track of what steps need to be completed as well as when each task is complete. 

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