One of the many ways in which students pick up new concepts and ideas is in the classroom. However, according to Jay Eitner, there are many other ways to learn as well. It is easy for children to only follow the curriculum and to not be stimulated to try other things, using techniques that have been shown to work, but that just require a little bit more organization. One of those ways is to attend science fairs, for instance.
Jay Eitner on Different Forms of Education
When students enter the classroom, they are there to absorb information as it is transmitted by the teacher. This means it is more an exercise in communication than anything else. The teacher tells students how certain things work and, in some classes, they will be able to test this out, and the students then remember what it is. While this is important, particularly in terms of giving students an understanding of accepted scientific methods and theories, it stops them from coming up with their own ideas. In essence, it halts discovery.
Encouraging students to discover new information is a fantastic way to enable young people to go on a journey of discovery. Taking on a project of which the end has not yet been determined makes things interesting and gets people involved. This means that it is no longer about spreading existing knowledge, but rather about developing new knowledge. And that, according to Jay Eitner, is exactly what a science fair can do.
Science fairs are school-based competitions. Different schools participate and their own winners can then attend a wider science fair, moving on to state and, eventually, national level. Indeed, there are even international science fairs. At these fairs, students choose a topic of interest and can then set about developing and proving or disproving a hypothesis, or finding a new method to prove an existing fact. It is a very hands on way of learning.
In the vast majority of cases, students and teachers do know what is most likely going to happen in the experiments conducted for the science fair. After all, scientists who propose a theory usually have a pretty good idea of the fact that they are going to be right. However, there is an element of not being completely sure that does come into play. Not just that, the methods used to prove or disprove a theory will have to come from the students themselves, meaning they become more creative and unique. That is a fantastic learning opportunity as well.
Jay Eitner believes all schools should organize and take part in science fairs. They are a way to ensure students once again become interested in science, but also that they take a more hands on approach to the subject. Not just that, there is a real chance that someone actually discovers something new or disproves a long accepted theory, thereby literally changing everything. There should be no reason to not give children that opportunity.