How to Develop Scientific Temper in Students
Tired of the eternal ‘whys’ of your little one? Fret not. They are an indication of his scientific leaning. Here’s how you can help develop scientific temper in him.
By Hannah S Mathew
This is a four-year-old’s explanation of why you hear thunder only after you’ve seen lightning:
“You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it: you got hit. So, never mind.”
It’s cute, of course; but notice how much thought this little child has given to the matter. Whether your child is a preteen or a toddler, she has a natural tendency to seek out reasons for the various mysteries of life that she comes across.
Your little one’s scientific temper is directly related to the environment she is in and the company she keeps. Therefore, your parenting style has a lot to offer towards the development of scientific temper in your child.
We have come up with a few ideas to help you nurture in your child an evidence-based curiosity for anything happening around her.
How to develop scientific temper?
A pro-science home will encourage your child to make the most of his enquiring mind.
- Encourage him to ask questions.
- Allow him to seek out answers on his own.
- Guide and direct him to reliable sources of reference like a dictionary or encyclopaedia.
- Let TV time be more for scientific programmes than for entertainment.
Teach your child critical thinking skills to better her problem-solving skills and IQ.
- She needs to use her reasoning and ask questions like, ‘Why is this happening?’ or ‘Is this the right way to respond?’ or ‘Who said this? Can I trust this instruction?’.
- Do not hinder her willingness to test so-called established ideas.
- Never halt her evaluation processes by saying: ‘Because I said so’. Instead encourage her to ask: ‘How do I know if this is true?’ or ‘How can I be sure?’.
- Teach her the logical sequence of science: General principles can create specific instances and, therefore, specific instances represent general principles.
- Point out exceptions to established norms and encourage her to marvel at some things which are still mysteries.
Steer your hero away from the customary satisfactions of finding answers on the Internet.
- Support his experiments to find the answers to questions like: ‘How does water move around in a plant?’ and ‘What objects float and what sink in water?’
- Coax him to write out his reasoning and read it to the family.
- Cheer him on as he creates models or diagrams to explain what he’s discovered.
- Give him time and permit the mess for a ‘show and tell’ of what he’s gathered.
It’s not only learning, your child needs to study.
- Avoid using chapter questions when it comes to academics. Pick up her books once every few days and ask her something that doesn’t have a direct answer in the book.
- Make some learning application-based. The rising of yeast, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar and the sprouting of saplings are some examples of application-based learning that she will enjoy.
- We live in times when there is a surfeit of knowledge in the form of reading material. Advise extra reading to improve her analysis of information.
Employ games and electronic devices to usher the fun element into his scientific thinking.
- Chess is an excellent game to help your budding genius develop his logical sequencing and strategic skills.
- Reading comprehension exercises flood the Internet with various levels of tasks to nurture his scientific temper.
- Riddles and brain teasers are all-time favourites that are now accessible through mobile apps too. Introduce him to these and he will cling on to them forever!
Your child will use her knowledge with ease as you explore things together. Have discussions with her. Focal points for discussion must include important elements specific to creating a scientific bent of mind.
- The logic and rationality behind events, happenings and processes will make her eyes pop with wonder. Watch as she enjoys the journey of arriving at her understanding.
- Egg her on to find scientific evidence for results and conclusions that she comes to. Let her not simply take someone’s word for it.
- Motivate her to obliterate traditional, customary and unfounded biases. Teach her to argue and debate these.
Developing scientific temper and promoting Science
To develop scientific temper and encourage more and more young Indians to take up Science as a subject, the Government of India has designated May 11 as the National Technology Day. The Government also runs various schemes for the promotion of Science, some of which are:
- MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) — launched to encourage scientific innovation among school children of class VI to X.
- Knowledge and Awareness Mapping Platform (KAMP) — an initiative to assess and encourage scientific temper in students in the age group of 10 to 18 years. KAMP will also facilitate the participation of students in India International Science Festival (IISF).
- SERB Distinguished Investigator Award (SERB-DIA) — a scheme to empower exceptional scientists.
- Scheme for Young Scientists and Technologists (SYST) — to encourage young scientists to come up with science-based solutions to existing/futuristic problems.
- Development of innovation hubs in different parts of the country.
- Development of science cities and science centres in different parts of the country.
You have to be patient as developing a scientific temper takes time. Nevertheless, in a world that is replete with misinformation, uncertainty and flux, your precious child needs to be unreservedly reliant on his scientific temperament. This is a strength that will equip him to be an invaluable citizen of the world, regardless of the career path he chooses to embark on.
About the author:
Written by Hannah S Mathew on 24 October 2017. Last updated on 16 April 2020.
Hannah S Mathew is an Assistant Professor of English, a freelance writer, soft skills trainer, learning content developer, mentor, diagnostic counsellor and devoted mom to a teenager.
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