- In the absence of preparations for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, one district's science instructors encouraged students to explore science in and around their homes, watch for science in the news and perform their own experiments, District Administration reports.
- Georgetown Public Schools Superintendent Carol Jacobs allowed teachers to scale back test prep, giving teachers the freedom to assign their own science projects. For example, one teacher had her students collect data at a creek or dig soil in their backyard to identify it.
- Teachers could also focus on teaching students to connect to current events through science, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The June 3 SpaceX launch was also an interesting science topic that gave teachers the opportunity to discuss the issues of privatizing space exploration.
When coronavirus forced students to stay home, teachers scrambled to convert lessons for a distance learning model. Though the transition wasn’t easy, the challenge forced teachers and students to become flexible and creative, as well as make mistakes.
Experts say that’s a good thing for students, as learning from mistakes is an important part of the developmental process. Overcoming mistakes teaches students to try things differently in order to get another result that may work.
Trial-and-error can be further put to the test by challenging students to get creative at home. With a little direction from teachers, students can concoct substances like flubber (glue and borax) or even create edible scientific recipes with healthy bacteria using yogurt and milk. Not only do these do-it-yourself projects teach science, they also hone math, reading and research skills.
There are also plenty of outdoor science projects students can take on without leaving their backyards or neighborhood parks. Bottles can be filled with natural items like different types of leaves or flowers, or students can create bubble solutions from soap, use different wands to test those bubbles and figure out which wands work best and why. For a classic physics demonstration, they can also construct a catapult to launch small objects into the air and measure how high they go.
While backyard science takes on new importance during coronavirus closures, traditional outdoor science programs are facing challenges. In a survey of nearly 1,000 outdoor education programs, around two-thirds reported they may fold because so few students were able to attend these programs last year.
By the the end of 2020, about 11 million students will have missed the opportunity to participate in these programs. About 60% of those will be from low-income schools and communities of color, and the organizations will have lost about $600 million in revenue.