12 Reasons to Make Time for Science TODAY

I’m going to say something controversial: teachers don’t have enough time for science.

Oh, wait, did I say “controversial?” I meant obvious.

For many educators, science often gets pushed to the side to make room for other content areas, especially those that are tested at the end of the year. This is especially true in elementary classrooms, where math and reading take the spotlight. Sure, science is important, but with so much pressure on standardized testing and meeting yearly goals, it can be difficult to find a place to squeeze in a bit of science.

The good news: I can help you find time for science!

The bad news: it’s not always easy.

But, hey: we’re teachers. We didn’t sign up for this job because it’s easy. We’re here to guide students and make a long-lasting difference in their lives. That means making the time for science one way or another!

I’m not just spouting off, either (though I can be known to climb onto my soapbox from time to time). Making time for science in your elementary classroom has real benefits that will help students throughout the rest of their lives. Sparing even a few minutes a day for science is a great start, and there are plenty of quick activities or exercises that fit into small blocks (like morning work), such as my Science Picture of the Day prompts.

Regardless of how you choose to make time for science, one thing is for sure: it’s far too important to be ignored! As an educator, I’m sure you believe me, but if you need a myriad of reasons to show your administration why you deserve more science time, then look no further.

Buckle up, because I’ve got lots to say about the benefits of science in the classroom!

When you make time for science in the classroom, you also…

1. Foster Curiosity and Exploration

As a mother of four and a teacher of more, I can say with absolute certainty that every child goes through the “why” phase. Generally students will have grown out of that phase by the time they reach upper elementary, but that doesn’t mean their curiosity has vanished! Children are naturally curious individuals, much more so than adults. If we encourage their curiosity, we create lifelong learners who are always eager to explore.

Including science in your classroom encourages students to explore the world around them, ask why things are the way they are, and investigate ways they could be different. For example, in my Plant Superheroes project, students are led through an exploration of plant adaptations and then challenged to either investigate real-world plant adaptations or to create new, unique adaptations using their knowledge.

Curiosity and exploration are among the many lifelong skills we as educators have a duty to instill in our students. Thankfully, science has come to the rescue!

2. Develop Critical Thinking Skills

I know, I know, I talk about critical thinking skills all the time, but it’s for good reason! Critical thinking may genuinely be THE most important lifelong skill that we can pass on to our students. When we teach students to be skeptical, we encourage them to ask questions and think outside the box. These lessons are a great way to develop logical thinking skills.

Critical thinking skills can be taught, of course, but integrating them into your science time is a cinch! For example, my Scientific Method Unit explores the importance of process skills as well as methods to invoke critical thinking in your students. Science and critical thinking truly go hand-in-hand!

3. Prepare for STEM Careers

STEM activities have become increasingly common over the last few years. Not only are STEM activities an excellent resource for your students, but their prevalence also reflects a real-world trend: STEM careers are taking off! When we make time for science through the use of STEM resources, we foster excitement for the field that can easily turn into passion for a lifelong career.

In addition, STEM helps students understand the relationship between science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM projects are a wonderful way to engage students and explore natural curiosity as well as develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. If you need a rundown of STEM, check out this blog post. If you’re looking for engaging, in-depth resources, come take a look at my STEM section on TpT!

4. Encourage Evidence-Based Decision Making

It’s 2023: the era of “fake news.” Politics aside, it’s no secret that misinformation abounds. Fact-checkers and Photoshoppers are engaged in a tight battle for information. What can we do?

Well, for starters, we can encourage evidence-based decision making in our classrooms. In practically every science lesson, we ask students open-ended questions. They must decide on an answer and use supporting evidence to back up their claim! This practice helps students use evidence to determine the accuracy of claims and the credibility of sources. In addition, evidence-based decision making is a reliable tool for high-stakes testing.

When we make time for science, we supply students with the lifelong tools needed to become successful individuals. Isn’t that our goal as educators?

5. Engage with Phenomena

One of my favorite activities is simple yet sweet: taking my kiddos outside! Engaging with phenomena sets a basis for exploration and curiosity. When we make time for science and allow students to observe phenomena, such as animal behaviors or the color change of leaves, we inspire them to ask questions, investigate, and experiment.

Furthermore, engaging with phenomena allows students to forge connections between themselves and science concepts. We create a tangible science lesson–no more abstract ideas! These connections make our science lessons come to life and encourage students to keep asking questions about their world.

6. Create a Love for Learning

Certainly by now you, my avid reader, have seen all my blog posts about sparking a love for learning… But that doesn’t mean I won’t talk about it again! It’s too important to leave off this list.

Why does hands-on learning work so well? Because students are engaged. When students are engaged, they learn more easily. What happens when students learn easily? They start to look forward to it! Gaining new knowledge and solving challenges is naturally an enjoyable experience. From what I have seen, the vast majority of cases of reluctance to learn in the classroom stem from another issue–generally boredom or struggles to understand the content.

When we differentiate and provide content in an engaging way, we help students work through their learning anxieties. In this way, we can develop lifelong learners. And when students love learning, they no longer dread coming to school. Now, by no means am I saying kids will be leaping out of bed and racing to school in the morning out of sheer excitement just because you’re making time for science… But they’ll at least enjoy their time in the classroom!

7. Build Reading Skills

When was the last time you read a fiction book? I’m willing to bet that, as an adult and an educator, you spend more time reading nonfiction teacher books, articles, or even social media posts. Sure, it’s more fun to read about fire-breathing dragons, but it’s certainly not the most common form of reading we do today.

That being said, it makes sense for us to help students understand that reading nonfiction doesn’t have to be boring just because it isn’t fantasy. In fact, there are innumerable science concepts out there that are just as exciting! Making time for science can also mean practicing reading skills through nonfiction science reading passages. In this way, students can practice important reading strategies such as summarizing, paraphrasing, visualizing, and inferring. Science also lends itself well to reading skills such as cause and effect, main idea, sequencing, fact and opinion, and so much more.

Of course, the more students read, the better their comprehension and fluency becomes. So why not toss a few science reading passages their way?

8. Build Math Skills

Wait, more science integration? You know it! I’m all about saving time wherever I can!

When I say “using math in science,” I’m sure you think of the obvious–graphing data, making charts, using measurements, and so on. But science uses so much more than those; it also uses numeracy concepts such as multiplication, addition, and algebra. Measurement, of course, is a common skill, and so are fractions!

Making time for science is so much more than just science. It’s a whole plethora of reading, math, and critical life skills. When you add more science to your classroom, you can rest assured that you’re setting your kiddos up for lifelong success.

9. Raise Global Citizens

Whether you’re creating an ecosystem accordion or demonstrating the effects of pollution on fish, students will be learning plenty about the environment and its inhabitants through your science time. Through their exploration, students learn about the importance of and how to care for the environment and the world. Great students are green students!

10. Instill a Growth Mindset

One of the most important areas of the scientific method is the experiment. When you perform an experiment, you often end up with results that you didn’t anticipate–in other words, your hypothesis was wrong. The great part about that is: it’s still good science! Whether your hypothesis was right or wrong, science still happened either way. We now know what happens when that experiment is performed!

In science–and everywhere!–mistakes happen. The more often you make time for science in your classroom, the more your students will come to understand and acknowledge their mistakes. The important part is learning from them. Science helps to instill a growth mindset in students–and that will take them far!

11. Keep Kids Healthy

We may not be medical professionals (well, besides all the bandages), but students still learn a ton about their bodies, nutrition, exercise, illnesses, and so much more in our classrooms. For instance, we teach about human body systems to help students explore what’s going on inside our organs, how they function, and what they need. This encourages students to keep their bodies healthy so their organs can do their jobs!

Similarly, small activities like using glitter to show germ spread helps kiddos understand what’s going on. During COVID, activities such as these were an excellent way to make that real-world connection and, more importantly, teach kids how to stay healthy!

12. Inspire Creativity

Make time for science? More like make time for creativity!

… Okay, so that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Nonetheless, science and creativity are two peas in a pod. Science allows students to explore and ask the questions they want answers to rather than just the questions that are on the test. Going a step further, students can even create their own devices, experiments, and hypotheses!

Creativity is a valuable tool in the real world. Thinking outside the box and coming up with unique solutions to problems are traits that we should all strive to embody!

Making time for science can be a tad difficult at times, but it’s always worth it in the end. Students will be spurred on to lifelong success thanks to the efforts of their educators who supplied them with the necessary tools for life.

It’s always a wonderful feeling to encourage growth and a love for learning in your kiddos!

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