Sparking students’ interest by encouraging them to explore and solve scientific problems on their own

by Maggie Mabery

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


I teach science, and I believe that when we give kids solutions to scientific problems before they find them on their own, we rob them of the benefits of exploration.

You see greatness when students have the chance to fail, and then are able to persist and try again. And when kids have a chance to follow their interests and explore, they develop essential critical thinking, inquiry, and problem solving skills.

In my classroom, this often looks like organized chaos. But learning is always going on. I encourage students to:

–Tinker and explore in ways that help them to develop their own procedures for exploration and problem solving;

–Build on their observations to research what they see; and

–Talk with their peers to experiment, discover, and articulate solutions.

It’s sometimes hard for teachers to give up this kind of control to their students, but when it happens the results are amazing.


What I did well… 

NGSS is such a new topic and their resources are limited.  I am proud that I take the risk with my students to try new experiences.  While the traditional labs can still be effective, giving students ownership and allowing their “wonderings” to take the root of what is being investigated in a science class is what I strive for.  The use of technology needs to be included in all lab experiences.

What would I do more of, better, or differently…

I would slow down.  I often get very excited and talk fast.  I think getting the basis of why NGSS isn’t just an idea, but a must was missing.

I still want to grow in this practice by…

I want to continue  to experiment with new ideas in my classroom.  I want to continue to make my classroom a student centered one with technology as not just an option but a must.


About Maggie Mabery

Maggie Mabery inspires her students each day to be the best scientists they can be. She challenges her students to not only explore the unknown, bu...

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