Teaching science through active discovery
The Québec Education Program aims to introduce elementary school students to science and technology. It focuses on learning contexts in which students can “make use of intellectual processes such as questioning, systematic observation, trial-and-error, experimental investigation, the assessment of needs and constraints, model building and the creation of prototypes. […] By engaging in these types of intellectual processes while exploring problems in their environment, the students will gradually learn to use the types of reasoning associated with scientific and technological activity, come to appreciate the nature of these activities and acquire the languages used in science and technology.” This is exactly what the active discovery process used by Éclairs de sciences does.
To gain a good understanding of active discovery, we suggest that you view the outline and animation below. They will introduce you to the “learning moments” of the process and provide explanations that will help you integrate it into your science activities.
Applying active discovery through Éclairs de sciences activities
Éclairs de sciences activities take the form of situation problems, discovery questions, or needs to fulfill. In resolving these issues, students engage in the active discovery process, the significant learning moments of which are:
- Context related to everyday life
- Initial ideas and hypotheses
- Work plan and experimentation
The teacher’s role in this approach is to act as a guide and “catalyst.” For the most part, this involves steering students in certain directions, suggesting courses of action, getting them to ask themselves questions, and helping them structure their thought process by encouraging them to think critically about their approach and to revisit main concepts.
Just like scientists, students must compare their initial ideas to their experimental results. Using simple experiments based on situations in their everyday lives allows them to see, smell, touch, understand, and explain phenomena that they had never paid any attention to before. In this way, Éclairs de sciences activities help students see past their preconceptions to get a clearer understanding of the world.
When they do Éclairs de sciences activities, students learn about great moments in the scientific process and develop competencies in science and technology. In this way, they acquire specific know-how and develop their curiosity, creativity, autonomy, critical thinking, observational skills, and ability to ask questions. They also learn to work meticulously and to innovate. Éclairs de sciences thus strives to equip the next generation to understand the modern world they are growing up in.