What's the Best Way to Teach Science?

Hi! It's Paul Andersen.
Earlier this spring Vanessa Hill did a video on BrainCraft called "What's The Best Way To
Teach Science?" She talked about the importance of problem solving and how
she was making both educational and entertainment videos. Then my friend Eric
Strong made a follow up video. He said "The most important thing when you're
teaching science is not to tell people what they don't know, but to tell them
what they know is not the whole truth." And I'll put links to these videos. But
i've been teaching science for a couple of decades. And so I thought I would
throw my hat into the game. What's the best way to teach science in
my opinion? It's to do science. And to summarize my motto it's this: Don't Kill the Wonder! (and don't hide the
practices) Now what's the Wonder? The wonder is a look that you see on a
person's face when they're REALLY interested in a problem but
they don't know the answer. Generally you put your hand on your chin,
you move your eyes to the side and you give it serious thought. It looks like this, or looks like
this, or like this. It doesn't matter how old you are.
The Wonder looks the same. And as a teacher I knew when I saw
wonder in my students eyes that I had a hook in them.
That they were excited about the content that we were going to cover. And so the WORST way to teach
science is to start by explaining! You want them to have that curiosity
and then follow that curiosity. And a way to introduce that to students
is to use the Wonder tube. The Wonder tube looks like this. And so what happens is i can
pull down on the Red pom-pom and the blue one goes up
(so they seem to be connected) I can pull up on the green one. That's
also connected to the blue which is connected to the red which
is connected to the yellow. So it's almost as if they're all
connected in the middle. So hopefully you're trying
to figure this out. The weird thing is if you
pull it apart in the middle it's not really connected
in the middle. And so what's going on?
This is a lot like science! We don't know what's going on
on the inside. But we're curious about what's going on. That's the Wonder! And so
if I were to start by simply telling you
how the Wonder tube works I would kill the Wonder. It's
the worst way to teach science. Now you might say: "All you've done is
made videos. You've made hundreds of videos on
science where you do nothing but explain!" And that's totally true. But
that's not what my classroom looks like. My classroom looks the opposite of that.
My classroom always starts with good questions. If we're going to deal with
light, for example, I'll start with a question like this. I don't know if you've noticed but in
pictures like this space is black. Why is space black? Now it's important
that you think about that. And that I don't tell you
the answer to that question. If we're dealing with photosynthesis
I'll ask you this question: Where does the mass of a plant
that's growing come from? And I want you to expose what
you're thinking. Or better yet let's start
with an experiment! Instead of giving you the
equation for a pendulum I'm going to have you look and do experiments on the pendulum to figure out what's affecting
the period of the pendulum. You should come up with that. You should
answer that question. Just like scientists have answered it
over the last couple hundred years. And so when I say don't kill the wonder
what I mean is that don't take away
that curiosity in a science classroom that's so important! I think
we can do that in videos as well. I think it's just a little bit
more difficult. Now the second part
of my motto is this: don't hide the practices.
What does that mean? When you're teaching science
it's not the content you learn. What's the most important thing? It's the actual practices
of doing science. And so these are
the practices of science. These are what scientists
spent hours and hours and hours doing every day. And so when
you're learning science this is what you should be doing.
Developing models.. You should be testing those models,
analyzing data, communicating that
information with other people. And so it's..
We live in an ironic time. At a time where people are so
excited about science and new discoveries but students
are not excited about their classroom. And I think one of the
reasons why, is that what we do, is we tend
to just explain all the time. When you explain all the time
what you lose is the Wonder. So in the next set of videos I'm going
to talk about these practices and how you as a student
and you as a teacher can use them and bring some of that wonder
back into the classroom. And I hope that was helpful.

40 thoughts on “What's the Best Way to Teach Science?”

  1. Good stuff from a great teacher. Watch this and lets do science:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lVk8FJ_dnA

    Sometimes a little context helps:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLbolBa4gXg&t=31s

    Models can be helpful but let students design them and don't ever forget the fun factor:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE-q00WP14k&t=29s

    Doing science is THE WAY! I say good teachers have good answers, great teachers ask great questions but the best teachers inspire great thinking!

    Many teachers in crowded classrooms with poor resources will find this challenging so we must find ways to fix this. 

    If you have a few smartphones download a sound meter and light meter app and think about all the data you can get. One simple activity is getting students to explain the results when they measure light reflected by black, red, green and white sheets of paper but get the data first and then search for the explanation.
    Watch this for more:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueFtAIVPL6M

  2. My engineering university teaches science by not teaching at all and expecting the students to read the book/ learn the material on their own. I should give you the $2800 my biology course cost me.

  3. WOW!!!! we LOVED your lesson at our school your are the best scientist I have ever seen in my life!!! Love youuuuu

  4. I may have misunderstood your thinking a little bit, but I think some of what you may be presenting here is indicative of a central naive dogma of much of Western or modern pedagogical thinking, namely that students should discover and figure out things for themselves, learning by practice, applying the scientific method. This philosophy will often run counter to effective instruction which is what learners need to master a subject.
    That withstanding, I'm sure your classes are pretty great, and you're sparking curiosity in many of them(and us) which is a great thing, I'd think.

  5. The videos you make are sooooo amazing!!I want this in Albanian and I think I'm gonna start my teaching channel in albaninan ASAP.If you see this comment pls answer Bozeman!I need your help…which software do you use to make those drawings and presentations ?

  6. I have done this exp with pendulum at home…can you make focult pendulum at home ..i also wanna make!!!

  7. This is a very helpful insight, thank you! In my teaching I have haphazardly sometimes explained everything at the beginning and sometimes got students to ask their own questions more, without really thinking about what approach would be better. I will definitely try to let that sense of wonder grow first from now on!

  8. Currently struggling with freshman bio bc my teacher Justus lectures and never explains… will share video it was good

  9. Indeed. I use the Socratic method and the students love using reason, logic, and evidence to figure things out. Sometimes we go down the rabbit hole and I'll allow it as they are exploring and thinking. I work really hard NOT to give answers in my class. I want them to figure out the many various ways in which to determine reality. My class, is fun, lively, and kids are learning to appreciate, understand, and accept the science that they are learning about and doing.

  10. The Video was helpful and exciting. I love the wonder approach. it's something that we as teachers need to enact in a classroom setting in order to enhance the mental reasoning of the students. Love this.

  11. Mr. Anderson, I find your talk to be very informative and thinking-stimulating. Thank you so much. As a Chinese students, I am very lucky to come across your tutorials. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

  12. wow just wow…
    i hope someone like u was in our country…
    i m from india
    and what our teachers do is just make us swallow information which we have to vomit on the paper…
    oh i wosh i hv a teacher like u….
    u r awesome.

  13. definitely true. I am student, and we have terrible theory during physics course (i am on university), teacher explain and we write notes. I "sleep" always on class, but when teacher ask something, that´s is challenge for me to answer.

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