My colleague Sean Cavanagh, who covers math and science here at Education Week, recently wrote an article about science labs in elementary schools. According to the story, although science standards generally call for hands-on experiments even in the early grades, such lab work doesn’t always happen because of time constraints and a lack of teacher training. But introducing students to science experiments at an early age not only helps reinforce scientific laws and concepts, but also increases students’ enthusiasm for the subject, says the article.
I, for one, do not recall ever conducting science experiments when I was in elementary school, and we certainly did not have anything like the labs or equipment described in the story at that level. The first time I ever saw a science lab or Bunsen burner was in middle school. As a student, I didn’t start liking science until I was in college, and I won’t go so far as to say that it was because I didn’t experience hands-on science at a young age. But cultivating an enthusiasm for the subject in the early grades seems like a pretty good idea.
What do you think? How early does your school start introducing science experiments to students? How old were you when you started doing them? Does it make a difference?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.