Why kids get bored with science

Clive Thompson (Wired article here) gets it right on why kids generally enjoy learning science:

“One of the reasons kids get bored by science is that too many teachers present it as a fusty collection of facts for memorization. This is precisely wrong. Science isn’t about facts. It’s about the quest for facts – the scientific method, the process by which we hash through confusing thickets of ignorance. It’s dynamic, argumentative, collaborative, competitive, filled with flashes of crazy excitement and hours of drudgework, and driven by ego: Our desire to be the one who figures it out, at least for now.”

Although I routinely teach science to people in their 20s and 30s, I have spent some time telling elementary school children about viruses. And I agree, you can’t just pour on the facts. You have to tell them how the facts were obtained. And why they are important.

And he’s right about the role of ego. Nobel laureate David Baltimore wrote years ago that science is driven by the ego, and he was spot-on. Who publishes in the best journals, who gets the most grant money, who gives the biggest talks – and most importantly – who makes the discovery first. It’s just human nature. Without the ego, science would advance far more slowly.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bob Bobby 22 May 2009, 8:09 am

    Science is boring. But I can make it amazing. Let me teach the highschoolers!

  • Fred Freddy 22 May 2009, 8:12 am

    HEY! I'M BOB'S FRIEND, FRED FREDDY! WE ARE IN SCIENCE CLASS SPAMMING YOUR PAGE! Yes we should be focusing…BYE!

  • Isis 23 May 2009, 11:41 pm

    Now I get it why science is boring, my kids really love science!

    Rina

  • Isis 24 May 2009, 6:41 am

    Now I get it why science is boring, my kids really love science!

    Rina

  • girl 14 October 2011, 8:08 am

    im bored in science we are learning about rocks and the rock cycle and igneous and metamorphic and sedimentrt and weathering erosion and all this im soo confused help !!!! plz

  • a person 19 January 2012, 6:05 pm

    are you in like 5th grade?

  • a person 19 January 2012, 6:06 pm

    the way to get through science class people is just sleep it works everytime