Transitioning from Experimental Science to Experiential Science

Vaishnavi Deepak

Scientific literacy is a priceless gold mine. It shapes the present and future of not only individuals but societies as well. With science focusing more on evolution and innovation, it comes as no surprise that its pedagogy is also evolving. Scientific literacy, today, is a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes which reflect the traditional learning methods.

As Herbert Spencer rightly mentioned, “In science, the important thing is to modify and change one’s ideas as science advances.” In this decade,  there was a radical shift in the approach towards learning and teaching STEM subjects. The experimental approach is, gradually, being traded for an experiential approach. To decipher the reason behind this  transition, it is important to understand the fundamentals of both methods

Experimental learning focuses more on testing theoretical aspects. A scientist devises experiments on relevant topics, substances or events, to put her/his theories to test. The outcome of her/his experiments may either confirm or contradict his theories. In certain cases, she/he may have to abandon her/his experiments. This type of pedagogy limits teaching to a laboratory centered approach.

children learning science by  experiential learning.

Experiential learning is a teaching strategy that links field, laboratory and classroom experiences with real-life situations and applications Experiential learning also exposes students to real-life experiences when scientific theories are brought to life through a series of applications (not limited to experiments). Field and laboratory activities enable students to focus and reflect on a task,  allowing them to develop a better understanding of the concepts at hand.  

Now, that we have established the basic distinction between both the effective methods, it should not be hard to identify that experiential learning is a more inclusive and practical approach to both teaching and learning. This approach appears to be more effective as it is a combination of many schools of thought, including but not limited to concrete experiences, reflective observations, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.

Experiential learning imparts qualities like cogent thinking, critical reasoning and the ability to make astute observations; thereby, being one of the reasons for it to be implemented in scientific study. Hands-on learning is better than traditional science learning, as it provides industry relatable experience.   Establishing the learning outcome of any topic will help in introducing appropriate hands-on learning activities to students through various experiential disciplines.  This will help students unlearn and restructure their understanding of the concepts of any topic, leaving no room for ineffective learning. 

An added advantage of employing such methods is the piqued interest levels in children.  Hands-on approaches can also be introduced at the higher education level to ensure students get more involved in experiential learning. Irrespective of the learning outcome, providing a reflective, interactive and student-centric method of learning will help students remember the concepts for a longer time.  As Aristotle famously said, “For the things, we have to learn: Before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Achieving the dream of including innovation in every realm of academics is possible, through the implementation of experiential learning.

Motivation to take learning back home.

Author – Vaishnavi Deepak

Learning is an ongoing process. It is something that follows its master everywhere. Whether it is homework, preparing for an assignment or studying for an exam, it is not a practice that is limited to confined spaces.

The existing education system has a conventional view towards learning, more like a horse’s blinker. Restricting learning to the four walls of a classroom is a common mistake that teachers and parents make while nurturing students and children who are born learners. While the classroom is the primary source of instruction, it is vital that – intellectual, social and academic growth extend outside the walls of the classroom.

The concept of ‘home assignments’ was first thought of, to inculcate the discipline of putting time into one’s craft in young children. However, today it is a stale concept as it has been veiled as a punishment and hence, has lost its primary goal.

There is a pressing need to re-evaluate ‘outside-the-classroom’ learning practices and find a secret potion to motivate young talented students to take up these learning practices.

We, at ThinkTac, have you covered as we present to you, the top three tricks that will help today’s academicians and parents master the art of ensuring learning is taken back home.

Here goes:

  • Make efforts to create a reading environment:

Every space that students surround themselves with, should be conducive to learning. And reading is a habit that is not time or space-bound.

Read to your child frequently. Have your child read aloud. Create a family reading time/room where everyone focuses on reading for at least 20 minutes a day.

Fill your classroom and home with reading materials (novels, posters, newspapers, magazines, etc.) to create an atmosphere of reading, that will indicate the importance of reading to your child (or students).

Make sure the demarcated area is quiet, comfortable and free from distractions. Try to experiment with different study areas. 

  • Combine fun and learning at home:

Most children look forward to returning home from school,  as it allows them to indulge in activities that help them unwind/relax. It would do the children a world of good if their recreational hobbies were integrated with academic ideas to help them grasp concepts better.

Think “science experiment” and you might have visions of a chemistry lab explosion. Fear not! You don’t have to turn your kitchen into a blast zone to teach science. There are plentiful DIY experiments and models on our website that can be done in the comfort of one’s home, yet making sure that they engage the learner’s grey cells.

You could also devise simple games that could be swapped for idle pastimes. Adapt the game for school-age children to cover anatomy, world government, foreign language, and history, etc. What you choose to teach with this game is only limited by your imagination.

  • Encourage conversations and active learning:

Conversations and interactions at home can help develop a positive attitude towards learning and build confidence in themselves as learners. 

Children who haven’t learned to listen carefully often have trouble following directions and paying attention in class. Children need active learning just as much as quiet learning.

Active learning involves asking and answering questions, solving problems and exploring interests. It can also take place when they play sports, spend time with friends, play a musical instrument or visit museums and bookstores.

To promote active learning, listen to their ideas and respond to them. Let them jump in with questions and opinions when you read or learn something new together. When this type of give-and-take at home is encouraged, it incentivizes them to take their academics back home.

Turning every day into a learning day may be too much, but it really isn’t, if you go about it the right way.  Do take note that not everything has to feel like a classroom lesson. Get young kids excited about discovering something new by using these tips and motivating them to take their learning back home, willingly and energetically.

As Simone Weil rightly said, “The joy of learning must be as indispensable in study as breathing is in running.”

Tips to increase your child’s self-confidence

Author – Vaishnavi Deepak.

People who are confident are eager to learn new skills and face new challenges.

Tips to increase your child’s self-confidence

As Oprah Winfrey astutely said, “It is confidence in our bodies, minds, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures.”

As adults, we often face pangs of low confidence and are reminded of our insecurities. In a later stage of life, being set in our ways, it is hard to evolve overnight into a more self- assured individual.

Besides, most of these issues stem from the early days of our development- our childhood.

For children today, it is vital to grow up with a sense of self-worth to be able to match steps with their peers. Self-confidence is crucial for getting along with others and working out  many social challenges—such as sharing, competing, and making friends—that children face in school settings.

Parents are, thus, increasingly concerned about ensuring their kids  not getting sucked into the traps of demotivation or discouragement.

Taking into account this alarming need to ensure children are confident and assured at all times, we have compiled a list of tips that will come handy to parents that are on the quest to raise happier children-

  • Appreciate any effort – Be it small or big, effort must always be applauded. A kid’s journey is really the cumulation of all the efforts they take to build themselves. Be sure, however, to not delude your child from the realities of their work through excessive appreciation. Keep it moderate, but more importantly, keep it constant. It works like an incentive to strive harder and hence, grow.
  • Encourage interests and passions – Back your child at whatever they wish to practice or show interest in. Most young prodigies swear by early beginnings and your nod of approval or push in the right direction might steady them into something they could be great at. Also, having well rounded personalities  are most of the times synonymous with confidence and the process must begin early.

“Practice invests effort in the confident expectation that improvement will follow.”

  • Quit rescuing them – It is only natural to have a parental pang when you find misery befalling your child. Your gut then drives you to do the best to singlehandedly rescue them out of it. However, replace this instinct with the understanding that children only learn and grow from obstacles. Allow your kids to take chances and risks and come out of them on their own merit. This small moment of holding back on your part will translate to greater outcomes in their crisis management abilities, independence and self-worth.
  • Promote problem solving – Running on similar lines as the previous tip, promoting problem solving in your child can encourage them to mature and come up with innovative ideas to get through their roadblocks.

Author of the book, ‘Raising a thinking child’, Myrna Shure says, “Kids are confident when they are able to negotiate getting what they want.”

In this context, setting up an environment of reasoning and cogent arguments to come around every situation of disagreement at home can be effective in helping kids develop the ability and confidence to back themselves in the future.

  • Fantasise about the future – If kids can envision themselves doing something important or fulfilling, when they grow up, they are bound to feel more confident now. Talk to your child about how you, or other acquainted adults, chose careers. Your child may dream of being an international singer or an astronaut, but don’t try to lower their expectations. Even if they change their mind, the important thing is that they are thinking about their goals.

“Kids have to learn to measure themselves against themselves.” says family therapist Jay Scott Fitter, author of ‘Respect Your Children’. Envisioning the skill set they would require in comparison to what they have, will instil a drive to develop their personalities. As enticing as the future might be, the focus should still lay on personal growth. This is their gauntlet to healthy confidence.

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