|M.Sc Student||Reshef Maayan|
|Subject||Cancer Nano-Therapeutics and Instructive Science|
|Department||Department of Chemical Engineering||Supervisor||Professor Avi Schroeder|
|Full Thesis text|
Children's early exposure to science is important for developing their creative thinking and problem solving skills.
In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of students who choose scientific studies in high school and university.
To address this challenge and to have students engage science at a young age, we established a program that allows children to perform thinking exercises combined with hands-on scientific and technological experiments, by utilizing their genuine wonder and materials from the world around them, starting from kindergarten. Young children have investigating minds and are inquisitive about the world that surrounds them, so for them hands-on science can increase knowledge and confidence regarding science in the future. Science education in these early years can help children develop fundamental and essential processing abilities. This is important as studies show that the interest in pursuing science in adult ages starts in children pre middle school and is strongly influenced by their teachers at that time.
In the program the experiments are taught to the students by their own kindergarten and primary school teachers who have a direct ability to facilitate engagement in science and arouse scientific curiosity in their class; these teachers are not experienced science teachers but out-of-field teachers who serve as the children’s main guide in fostering a good attitude toward science.
Most primary and kindergarten teachers have little or no knowledge and experience with science and as a result the teachers have concerns about teaching science; this can also be attributed to poor experiences with science in the school years of the teachers themselves and inadequate pre-service preparation of the teachers. In addition, kindergarten teachers are under pressure to teach language and literacy, which causes the teachers to devote less or no time to science.
We found that clear coaching of the teachers with a recipe-like approach, without assuming prior knowledge and making science materials available, will facilitate the teachers’ teaching of science and help them teach basic science and spark interest. Hands-on experiments and a combination of a theoretical tool with learning activities taught by out-of-field teachers can enrich the children’s understanding of scientific terms, contribute to their interest in science in the future and help them become better scientists.