Learning vs. Figuring Things Out

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Learning vs. Figuring Things Out

Teacher 3

If I want to learn about something, I generally can read about it, or I can watch someone who knows what they are doing, or I can be put into a situation where I need to do whatever needs to be done.  A few years ago I had a leaky faucet in my house.  It was not an emergency situation, there was not cascades of water causing any permanent damage, so I took it upon myself to fix it.  I looked up youtube videos, read the instruction manual that had come with our sink, and eventually took the faucet apart and repaired it.  I had to figure out what the problem was, had to identify a solution and then fix it.  To me, this was a situation where I had to figure things out and also learn about a particular "science".

I think a major shift has happened over the past few years which has changed the focus of science in the classroom from reading about science concepts to having students figure things out.  The maker movement is one indication of this mind shift.  It is still important for kids to understand the basics of science, as we have discussed in previous forums, but it is also valuable to provide opportunities for kids to ask questions and then take things apart and put them back together again to find out the answers.

I think figuring things out fits very well in our discussions on "How Students Learn Science".  We know kids learn through first hand experience and through need.  As my dad said to me years ago, "You can read all you want about heat conduction, or you can burn your hand on a stove!" Maybe not the most delicate analogy here, but it does make sense.