Teaching Science With Toys

By: Erin Jordan
By: Erin Jordan

Getting kids interested in science is often a challenge. Concepts in the books aren't very clear to young minds unless they see them in action. About 20 years ago Miami University in Ohio developed a program to solve this disconnect between students and science. Miami created classes called "Teaching Chemistry and Physics with Toys". Teachers take a two week class and learn hundreds of simple, inexpensive experiments. This stuff not only blows the minds of students, but also of the teachers themselves.

One teacher participating in this program is Lillie Hall of Vinson Middle School in Huntington. After 22 years, her enthusiasm hasn't faded but her lesson plans needed a recharge. She didn't realize the Toys Program would give her the jolt she needed.

"I was really dreading the physics part of this. But when we got in and I was going home I was sitting down and doing lesson plans for next year. And I'm thinking, what am I doing?! It's fun. It's brought back that excitement." said Hall.

The program gives teachers the confidence they need to teach science, which is generally an area they don't have a lot of training in.

"In the elementary and middle schools they don't get a lot of science content in their college years." said Mary Beth Criniti, the class instructor.

Over the years, thousands of teachers have gotten the hands-on experience they need to explain science to kids.

"Miami is an Ohio school and it started out as an Ohio based thing but it's spread out. We have programs not only in the US but also internationally." said Criniti.

The class has brought back the joy in teaching for Lillie Hall. For her, the next two months can't go by fast enough.

"I can't wait. I cannot wait. I've seen three activities. I cannot wait." said Hall.

Marathon Oil sponsored the class so teachers could take it for free. The teachers also get to take home all the toys when the class is over.

For more information on experiments you can do at home click on the link below.

Terrific Science


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