Science is more than a subject; it’s a necessity for young students to test their curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills.

5 ways to make way for science in an ELA and math world

Science is more than a subject; it’s a necessity for young minds to test their curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills

How much time do you think the average K–3 student spends learning about science? Thirty minutes a day? An hour a day? Well, according to the 2018 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, K–3 students spent an average of 89 minutes studying ELA, 57 minutes learning math, and a miniscule 18 minutes a day on science. These numbers aren’t too surprising when you consider that reading and math are high priorities in early grades. However, when educators fail to make room for science in their lessons, students can still lose out on essential growth. 

Science is much more than naming planets or memorizing the periodic elements. At its heart, science is about tapping into a student’s innate curiosity and creativity while fostering their critical thinking skills. It encourages them to ask important questions and discover answers by carefully examining their surroundings.

Given the incredibly packed school day schedule, finding room for science will take more than a little flexibility and creative thinking. Here are just a few resources and strategies that teachers can put into practice right away:

1. Think 15: Teachers can start by engaging students in activities that will leave them feeling accomplished and treat them like real scientists, all in only 15 minutes or less. These can include STEM challenges like a marble run or a card tower challenge. Simply provide students with supplies, criteria, and constraints and then challenge them to meet a specific goal. Additionally, teachers can take things a step further with Inquiry in Action lessons. These free resources are designed to engage students and get them thinking deeply about their topic. Best of all, the lessons take anywhere from 15-30 minutes and with little to no prep for the teacher.

2. Think Culture: Use this instructional model to remind your students that these “soft” skills are just as important as the science, math, ELA, and social studies content they learn. The Claim, Evidence, Reasoning format is a great way to promote critical thinking, self-direction, and perseverance. Students should answer a question clearly in their Claim. Then they should use Evidence (analyzed data) to support their claim. Students should finish by providing Reasoning (an argument) as to why the evidence supports the claim. CERs can be used in any content area where students need to support a claim with sound evidence and reasoning. Check it out in action here!

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