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Students as Scientists


September 13, 2011

I was the science lab teacher for 2nd and 3rd graders. I did not encounter many students that refused to touch things, but I did a few things that may have helped.

  1. I started the year referring to the students as scientists. As we learned the scientific method, I talked about the way scientists behave in the lab, which included being willing to touch things that might be unpleasant.
  2. When a student made comments about something being yucky, I did not respond. Often such remarks are made to get attention and the less attention paid, the better.
  3. I focused on the students who were willing to “dive in,” praising their scientific approach.

I once had someone bring a real, dead, giant squid to my lab. After her presentation, the students were allowed to touch it. It smelled and was pretty gross looking, but every single student eventually touched it. I respected their feelings and praised them whether they touched with just one finger or were in up to their elbows. I feel that being critical can just reinforce their squeamishness. Let's face it, creepy crawlies aren't for everyone.

 

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