The Closet Scientist

My favorite part of ordering from Amazon Fresh is the dry ice packs.  I immediately open those little packs, pour them into my sink with water so I can turn my kitchen into a mad scientist lab.

sink

I love science. It’s a rather recent passion maybe because I barely had any exposure to it growing up. Back then (in the time of the dinosaurs) in my native country there was no science in elementary or middle school. And you only learned it in high school if you were following a science degree–which I was not.

When my kids started school here in the US, I found that I loved studying it along with them, and when I decided to go back to school the first classes I enrolled  for in college were in literature and science.

Ever since becoming an elementary school teacher I have grown in my love for science and found that just like language and technology I have a natural knack for it.

Crazy scientist. Young boy performing experiments

Unfortunately I’m an ESOL teacher, a teacher for English as a Second Language. I say unfortunately because the system still believes that language can only be learned through language arts and I am–more often than not–prevented from teaching science, one of the richest subjects in terms of academic language. Science has it all: language, problem solving, methodology, reading, writing… you could even add art in there for good measure. And get this–it’s also fun!

I absolutely love teaching language through other content areas and I’ve done it even through art. For children, learning language through content that is highly visual and hands-on really works. Yet, I often hear things like, “ELs (English Learners) have to have more guided reading, not science classes or art.” Don’t get me wrong. Guided reading has its merits, but I’m here to tell you that if my elementary school teachers had taught me how to read with guided reading I probably would hate reading now. Guided reading is abstract and most second language learners do not connect with it at all. Put a bottle of vinegar, drop a teaspoon of baking soda in it and you have an explosion of dialogue, observations, vocabulary exchange, true wonder that leads to new language and new love for discovery and problem solving.

kids-girl-pencil-drawing-159823

So, when I turn my kitchen into a mad scientist lab for a few minutes I think of all my little students who would love to see it, talk about it, come up with hypothesis- will hot water create more fog than cold? How long will it take for the ice to vanish totally?

So rich! So exciting! So underused in schools today.

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