6 ways to get kids into science
The best part of doing science outreach with children? That instant when they suddenly understand.
“When you see them light up, and there’s that ‘Aha!’ moment that happens, it’s awesome,” says Alexandre Elhalwi, a master’s student in exercise science and the co-coordinator of Let’s Talk Science at Concordia.
The local chapter of an award-winning national charitable organization, Let’s Talk Science is a group of 31 Concordia students who lead free, hands-on activities and events designed to promote science literacy to young people in Montreal and throughout Quebec. It has reached more than 6,500 children since its launch in 2011.
“Kids stop being interested in science because they think it's not accessible to them — they think it’s too difficult,” Elhalwi says. “With that lack of interest, they forget that it’s all around them. Even just by virtue of being educated in science, you see your world in a different way.”
We asked Elhalwi for his top six tips.
1. Make the topic relevant
“Remember that science is all around us, so address a topic that's relevant to the learner's life, or compare new ideas to concepts they already know and are familiar with.”
2. Make the topic meaningful
“Remember that the learner wants to know: ‘Why is this important?’”
3. Make it a hands-on experience
“A lot of exciting science experiments can be messy, so don't be scared to get your hands dirty or make a mess!”
4. Use all the resources available to you
“There are lots of different scientific concepts you can address while cooking, while taking a walk in a nearby forest, or while visiting a university.”
5. Try different approaches to teaching a topic
“People learn in different ways. If the first way you deliver a message doesn't seem to be sinking in, try a new approach: make a drawing or a flowchart, write a song, or come up with a game.”
6. Deliver information in bite-sized pieces
“Don't overwhelm your learners! They'll need to think about new information.”
Students at Concordia who want to join the Let’s Talk Science team must first complete a volunteer training program designed to help them deliver safe, effective and age-appropriate outreach activities.
Interested? Check out the group’s info session on Monday, January 27 at 4 p.m. in the Science Pavilion (SP-165.22) on the Loyola Campus. If you can’t attend but would like to learn more about the program, contact coordinators Alexandre Elhalwi and Adam Beach at email@example.com.