As a new or perhaps even veteran teacher, it can be tricky finding the right resources to rely on when it comes to certain subjects – particularly, science. As educators, our main goal is to not only teach students new and stimulating things about the world but to better prepare them for the rest of their educational careers.

The artform of teaching science in the 21st century - Microscopes
The artform of teaching science in the 21st century. Image Source

In today’s current political climate, subjects like science have become a rather charged topic, and at times your students will look to you for guidance as they attempt to process all the information and opinions around them. Moreover, with platforms like social media, shifting through scientific fact and fiction becomes much more difficult for our 21st-century students.

As an educator, it’s difficult knowing exactly what your students have been exposed to; however, we can help them develop those crucial skills needed to examine and criticize data and more.

Teaching Science in the 21st Century

It’s important to note that there is still a large need for more science and technological innovation in our country. While STEM/STEAM programs have certainly experienced an increase in students, it’s still important that educators provide learning opportunities that can help students develop important skills and interests in these high-demand fields.

So, where do we begin?

Connecting with students is obviously an important factor regardless of subject, but consider what scientific rhetorics and topics your students are most interested in or will be. What concerns them, or what should they do? Climate change? The Mars landing? Gene-edited babies?

It’s important to recognize we’re living in a time where politics and science often go hand-in-hand. While it is necessary to always keep an unbiased stance as an educator, it’s essential to teach students critical thinking skills as well as foster an awareness of how scientific theories and facts are molding their futures within the United States. Through science, we can give students an educated voice – one they’ll need as they enter adulthood.

Beyond the Textbook

Of course, inspiring students to have an interest in science isn’t always about lecturing them. So, how can teachers marry science and fun? Most educators know the challenges of holding every student’s attention, but science can offer students a break from their typical school day.

Some subjects, like science, are often better explained visually – especially for younger students who probably aren’t quite ready for all the scientific jargon to be thrown their way. Printable science worksheets are one stimulating option, as they tend to simplify complex ideas that may be difficult for students to understand. And of course, interactive science experiments can give students that hands-on experience many of them crave and enjoy.

Another option for students is the very reliable Bill Nye the Science Guy. There is a reason Bill Nye is so adored by many students, past and present. He’s captivating and informative, without speaking down to his viewers. You can see and feel his excitement through his videos, which students then tend to reflect. Even older students can appreciate Bill Nye through his popular, “Bill Nye Answers Science Questions From Twitter” series.

Bill Nye uses the power of Twitter to answer some common science questions.

Of course, textbooks and your own education will be the main resources students will rely on and use in the classroom, but tailoring your lesson plans every now and then to include a break from the typical teaching routine can keep scientific subjects fresh, relative, and interesting.

At times it can be rather difficult to develop the right balance between skill-building, lectures, and fun. However, the work you do today with your students will stick with them for a long time. Students are exposed to a lot of information these days, more than ever before in history, and it can be overwhelming for both you and them.

While science is and probably always will be a rather politicized topic, with many outside influences telling students what’s wrong and right, as a teacher you can become the foundation on which they grow and learn important life-long skills. Science is such a critical subject in today’s classroom, and finding innovative ways to foster an interest in it will help students in many aspects of their lives.

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