How to give children a taste for science


Throughout history, through its discoveries and innovations, science has been the engine of human progress. However, many people, especially young people , are unaware of much of the knowledge she brought .

As teachers and researchers, we take up the challenge of bringing new generations closer to science. It is also about combating inequalities between men and women in this area and promoting inclusion. The main objective is to contribute to building a more informed society, aware of the issues of its time and more equitable.

This challenge involves combating digital distractions and overcoming barriers between generations, cultures and languages. It requires ingenious strategies and tools. Here are some ideas inspired by this experience that could be useful to others.

In the school context, promote collaborative work

Our practice suggests that workshops, experiments and live demonstrations are what young people are most interested in. The goal is to inspire wonder and create an inclusive and diverse experience.

With this in mind, we have found that creating experiences dealing with concrete issues, such as how to purify water or produce alternative energy, arouses the interest of young people. They also highlight the role of science in addressing global challenges.

It is recommended to establish contact with science from an early age , and schools are ideal environments for this. At this stage, it is essential to use manipulatives that allow children to interact directly with scientific instruments.

These elements, combined with concise explanations and practical examples, lay a solid foundation for learning science. Likewise, group activities and experiences promote an inclusive and collaborative environment, as well as the exchange of ideas.

Learn to dare to ask questions

We also try to eliminate the fears and doubts that young people may have regarding scientific instruments and equipment. We therefore ensure that activities are designed to ensure safety at all times. This allows participants to understand the importance of risk and error in learning and to arouse their curiosity.

Additionally, in our workshops , students ask questions and make comments that reflect their particular way of learning and thinking. In this sense, it is advisable to avoid questioning the quality of the questions.

Furthermore, through experiences, they understand that achieving a result that they did not expect is not a failure, but rather an opportunity to learn and improve. draw interesting conclusions. This way of thinking encourages the willingness to propose bold hypotheses, to question biases and preconceptions.

This awareness-raising experience in schools encourages dialogue between students, teachers and scientific facilitators. It also allows for continuous evaluation of the program and its effectiveness at each of its stages and activities.

Anchoring science in everyday life

Young people understand the importance of science when it fits into their daily lives. In our workshops, we show how mathematics and physics are the basis of the technologies they use, and chemistry the basis of their food.

For example, in a series of proposals called “The reality we perceive”, we ask children to take a photo of a specific object with their cell phone and show it. We then ask them how the cell phone captured this image, how it processes it and transmits it to another device. They first respond that the device captures the image exactly and it is up to us to explain to them the process actually at work.

As mediators, our approach is not limited to providing data. It is essential to encourage critical analysis and give participants the tools to make informed decisions. This is why we encourage questioning sweeping claims and objectively evaluating information.

On the other hand, we often use storytelling as a tool to strengthen the connection between young people and science. Discovering the exciting stories of certain research pioneers or decisive discoveries makes science accessible and exciting. The stories of forgotten women scientists, from diverse backgrounds, can, among other things, help reveal scientific diversity and offer inspiring role models.

Focus on “role models”

The presence of “role models” is very important in bringing science closer to the younger generation and helps combat the erroneous idea that the scientific world is inaccessible or reserved for a privileged few.

This is possible thanks to the influence of renowned scientists, passionate popularizers and leading figures from different backgrounds and genders. Their successes can set examples and send a clear message to young women: there are no limits to their aspirations in science. In our workshops, we encourage synergies between young people of different cultural origins and skills.

Science communicates in a formal and technical language, full of technicalities and complex concepts. This complexity allows experts to explore and explain the mysteries of the universe. It is advisable to start with simple terms and gradually introduce children to this formal language so that they are able to identify and understand it when they see or hear it in other contexts.

This ability to communicate is particularly important for young people, who build their perception of the world and refine their capacity for reflective analysis. When they can access scientific information in a clear and engaging way, they start from a solid foundation that encourages them to explore and stimulates their engagement in society.

Encourage online popularization

In today’s society, technology and image-based media are essential allies in popularizing science. With meticulously designed educational videos and interactive animations, even the most complex things can be made simple . In addition, scientific knowledge is presented in a visually appealing and easily digestible form.

Online platforms, from social media to YouTube channels, have ushered in a new era of popularization, with the arrival of “edutubers.” These digital innovators have taken on the challenge of communicating science in accessible and engaging formats that spark the imagination and interest of young people.

It is therefore imperative to encourage them in their enthusiasm and thus broaden the objective of scientific popularization. To this end, it is necessary to develop educational programs and provide teachers and researchers with the necessary tools. Only by providing accessible and inclusive information can we build connections between young people and the world of science.

Author Bios: Rosa María Martin Aranda is Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Hassan Hossein-Mohand is Professor-Tutor of the Associated Center of Melilla both at UNED – National University of Distance Education, Hossein Hossein-Mohand is Assistant Professor Doctor in the Department of Mathematics Didactics. Faculty of Education and Sports Sciences and Nabil Mohamed Chemlali is Professor of Didactics of Mathematics both at the University of Granada