Teaching Earth Science – Its Challenges and RewardsFebruary 10, 2021
Knowledge of Earth sciences is necessary to build a nation. Almost everything we do every day is connected in one way or another with the Earth: the earth, the oceans, the atmosphere, plants and animals. The food we eat, the water we drink, our homes and offices, the clothes we carry, the energy we use, and the air we breathe, grown on the planet, taken from the planet, surrounded or moved. According to the American Geological Institute (AGI) Foundation, eight billion people will be living on Earth by 2025. This number of people will no doubt continue to receive resources to maintain a high quality of life. Because we use all the resources we receive from Earth, we, as individuals and citizens, need to know more about our planet – its processes, resources and the environment. It is only through education in Earth sciences that students can understand and appreciate our complex planet. At present, young and old must join hands and help each other in the serious task of building a nation, learning from the wisdom and experience of older people, older people must recognize the impatience of youth. On the contrary, not all young students are willing to work together to acquire the knowledge, vision and skills necessary for a secure future. Then the teacher has the task to facilitate education, so that students get a quality education. This article discusses the various challenges a teacher faces in transferring knowledge of the Earth to public secondary schools, and discusses the positive aspects of studying the subject.
My first experience teaching Earth Sciences was in September 2005 at a public high school in East Davao, especially in District 1. I still remember the first day of admission to the senior class: fifty (50) students. Some of them were busy chatting with their classmates, some were busy doing different things on their chairs, etc.
The first question that came to my mind was: how to attract the attention of students? When I introduced myself to them as their new science teacher, I saw different emotions on their faces. There were emotions of excitement, anxiety, fear, happiness, etc. I asked them to take a piece of paper and write on it: their name, their favorite topic, the topic they hate the most, and why they love/hate a particular topic and their expectations of it. I did this only to find out if they were interested in the topic, or to find out which topics they liked the most and why they liked them. From this I learned that out of more than fifty (50) students only four (4) said that they liked science. When I asked them why they didn’t like science as a subject, the general answer was, “Science is a complex subject.” From this experience, I realized that it would be difficult for students to learn trade if they didn’t like it. Indeed, it can be difficult to teach Earth sciences to middle and high school students “if students are not motivated or if they are not interested in the subject.”
There are several ways to interest students in Earth sciences. In my own experience, I used songs as part of my lessons – songs that are easy to learn and often heard by students. I used the melody of a particular song and adjusted the lyrics to suit the theme I was talking about. There are also songs that we present at seminars, which are very useful, because it is easier for students to memorize certain scientific concepts by simply repeating songs over and over again.
- Link local, national or international news to any aspect of Earth sciences. You can choose from a variety of news. Some old news and their impact on public/political life may also be of interest to students. Most students welcome any news related to the following topics: earthquakes to be discussed in the classroom; Volcanoes; Tsunami; Floods; Meteor showers; and news related to disasters past or present.
- Choose a topic common to most students, such as a social or political problem they know: nuclear power plants, illegal logging, global warming, the effects of urbanization; and mining. In my case, I have focused on illegal logging, illegal fishing and mining, as these problems do manifest themselves in our environment.
- Historical, biblical or religious sites and related geology: Delphic canyon and the temple of Apollo in Greece and couples emanating from this place; geology of biblical regions such as the Middle East; The Taj Mahal in India; Pyramids of Egypt; The Chinese wall; Niagara Falls and grand Canyon in the United States; Stories about gems and gems; and all that stuff.
- Anecdotes about the discoveries / scientific contributions of great men /women yesterday and today: Aristotle; Eratosthenes (measuring the circumference of the Earth); Ptolemy; Copernicus; Silent Brahe; Johannes Kepler; Archimedes; Newton; Einstein; James Hutton; Charles Lyel; N.L. Bowen; Alfred Wegener; Harry Hess; and many other names worthy of mention in the earth sciences.
- Space exploration always fascinates students: anecdotes from the study of the moon; Missions and life on Mars; Jupiter, its clouds and moons; discovery of new stars and other galaxies beyond our own; and other similar studies.
- A few facts intrigue and fascinate most students studying Earth sciences: The deepest mine in the world b. The deepest well in the world c. Comparison of the above numbers with the radius of the Earth. This can show them how little we know about the Earth through direct observation. Re. Compare these distances with the distance from the moon.