“Why is the sky blue?” “Why did the dinosaurs die?” “Where does the sun go when it sets?”
These are common questions posed by inquisitive young minds with a thirst for knowledge. When I return home from university, my eight year old sister bombards me with similar questions and is always fascinated by the response. She then relays the information to her school friends, explaining that her ‘big sister is a scientist and knows everything’. Beyond the dubious (albeit flattering) remark is the very important point that a good role model can enthuse young children to discover more about the science around them.
Since a reduced interest in STEM subjects is currently of national concern, teachers must act as these role models to reignite a passion for learning. A recent Ofsted report found that uninspiring teaching was the most common reason pupils gave for not continuing to study science beyond GCSE level. Due to time constraints, video demonstrations are being used in favour of engaging practical sessions and pupils comment that they don’t see the relevance of the science being taught. My own enthusiasm for the subject was born when I realised that science is everything and everywhere. So relating the textbook to practicals and life beyond the classroom is key to opening pupils’ eyes to the fascinating world of science.
I hope that when my sister and others her age reach secondary school, science teachers will take the time to fuel their enthusiasm and not dampen their inquisitive nature.