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Encouraging More Science In The Elementary School

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



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Page Numbers

5.256.1 - 5.256.3

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Sheila Horan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2332

Encouraging More Science in the Elementary School

Sheila Horan New Mexico State University


Elementary school teachers try to incorporate science into their curriculum, but do not always succeed. Sometimes all they need is a little help. Especially in the lower grades, where there are 20 or more students to a class, it is difficult to keep the students focused and on task. This paper explores an alternative that aids the teacher and allows students to demonstrate their abilities in science.

The Science Intern program was started six years ago, using 4th and 5th grade students to help with experiments in the classroom. Since its inception, the students’ science scores have increased, their self-esteem has risen, and their interest in science has been sparked. This paper outlines the program, and shows the advantages this program can bring to the schools and the students.

I. Introduction

Students learn by doing, and students can show what they’ve learned through exhibition. This is one of the main precepts of Re-Learning1. Is it better to have a student work problems on a test, or to be able to explain the concepts of an experiment to other students? Are students more interested in science if they read about it, or if they do it? At Tombaugh Elementary, a Re- Learning school, the answer to these questions is that actions speak louder and more to the point than words in a book. Having students experience something first hand is worth much more than having them read about it.

However, having students sit down at a table, read a lab and follow the instructions just does not work for the early elementary students. Pairing the young students with older ones and then letting them do the experiments does work. The older children can follow directions and help explain the procedures to the younger child. In this way, teachers can do more science in their class, since they can have older students supervising the younger ones.

This is the basic idea behind the Science Intern program. Older students in the school, 4th and 5th graders, are trained to work with certain experiments. Once trained, the students can be asked to help other classes in the school to do their experiment. Since there is usually just one teacher per class, these students give teachers freedom to do more with their students. Workshops are held monthly to give teachers the opportunity to learn the same experiments that the interns work with.

Horan, S. (2000, June), Encouraging More Science In The Elementary School Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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