Children are born insatiably, deliciously curious.
They will watch, listen to, smell, touch and even taste almost anything they can get their hands on, voraciously exploring and experimenting with the world around them.
So why doesn’t every kid in school love science, which is all about exploring and experimenting?
“It’s probably because of how we teach science,” says Kemi Jona, director of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships at Northwestern University. “Science is taught in a very fact-based, memorization-driven way that takes all the fun out of it.”
Instead, “we should be trying to engage kids in scientific processes, doing experiments, analyzing data and building models of different phenomena. In other words, you should learn science by doing science," adds Jona, who testified before the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology in 2015 about how to get private companies more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
Learning by doing
Fortunately, new approaches to STEM education are changing the landscape. For example, the Next Generation Science Standards, already adopted by 16 states, emphasize learning practical scientific and engineering skills and such cross-disciplinary skills as critical thinking and inquiry-based problem solving.
“Companies such as AbbVie play important roles in improving STEM education, especially through partnerships with local schools,” says Christine Wallace Caldwell, president of Catalysis LLC, which helped the AbbVie Foundation develop its SEEK program, or Science Engineering Exploration Knowledge.
“Companies can make a powerful impact by providing access to working scientists, so kids can begin to picture themselves as scientists, and realize that their career tracks are much broader than they might have thought," she adds.