Science Teaching: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Science Teaching: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow Science instruction can take on many forms. From the lecture hall, to the laboratory there are a variety of ways science can be taught. This essay explores the historical events and changes that have effected science education and made it what it is today and where it may be heading in the future. (Martin, 2009) Science education was created to share scientific data and events with students who are not part of the scientific community but benefit from scientific understanding. It is a way to make students scientifically literate about general concepts that pertain to scientific discovery.
Elementary science education usually includes the subject areas of physical, life, earth, and space sciences. (Martin, 2009) The early days of science education began in the United Kingdom near the end of the 19th Century. Decades later the push for science education reached the United States. In the US science was taught in a somewhat disorganized manner until it was standardized in 1890. Following standardization, science curriculum slowly evolved without a great deal of mainstream excitement and focus until the 1950’s with the dawn of the space age.
After the Soviet Union’s Sputnik program successfully launched several objects into space the United States became painfully aware that they were behind in science technology. From this point on in true American fashion the desire to compete on the world stage became the driving force for scientific discovery, specifically a race into space. This awareness that the United States had some catching up to do in order to rival the advances of other countries inspired support for higher quality science programs in classrooms across America in hopes that a crop of science- minded students would emerge. Martin, 2009) With the new focus on science education came billions of dollars to fund it. Educators were given the materials to teach ever-changing scientific concepts as well as the tools to provide a hands-on experience to students in the form of laboratories and field studies. Because discovery was changing at a rapid pace, science curriculum during this time was based on concrete scientific theory rather than the latest discoveries. The main goal was for students to gain a general understanding of science and to inspire students to become inquisitive and scientifically minded. Martin, 2009) Science teachers of the past and present share a common responsibility. They must convey a positive attitude about the subject of science to their students. Science teachers must present materials in and interesting, factual and creative way. They must engage their students in hands-on experiences. Teachers must give students the sense that they are able to gain an understanding of the world of science and build upon it to add to their knowledge. Teachers must make scientific understanding obtainable for students, sparking future inquisition and research. Martin, 2009) The ability for students to understand general sciences and beyond is a necessity. In the modern world, students will be required to use scientific information as they make choices on a daily basis. Also, students who are scientifically literate benefit from their ability to discuss, in an informed manner, many of the scientifically based issues the world community faces. Additionally, students will use scientific literacy in an ever-demanding workplace environment where they will be required to think creatively, solve problems, reason, and make decisions. National Academies Press, 1996) The science curriculum of today is moving in the direction of making students of the Unites States competitive on a worldwide stage. With technology changing at an extremely rapid pace it is essential that American science education prepare students to stay on pace with advances as well as forge new paths in the science of technology. Also, the sciences that focus on the natural Earth have taken center stage as the world addresses issues like global warming, and the availability of natural resources.

In an article that promotes the new National Science Education Standards it is proposed that new American standards “will require major changes in much of this country’s science education. The Standards rest on the premise that science is an active process. Learning science is something that students do, not something that is done to them. ”Hands-on” activities, while essential, are not enough. Students must have “minds-on” experiences as well. ” (National Academies Press, 1996) Today’s science curriculum should continue on their current path and focus on technological science and physical science.
Although the space sciences are still fascinating, given the current needs for the United States to lead the world community in other areas it important that the most relevant sciences receive the most focus. References Martin, D. J. (2009). Elementary science methods: A constructivist approach (5th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. National Academies Press. (1996). National science education standards: An overview. http://www. nap. edu/openbook. php? record_id=4962&page=1

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