Physical Science is the study of the inorganic world around us. In the elementary (6-9yrs) Montessori class, physical science is taught interwoven with history/geography and other sciences. The teacher tells stories in order to engage the children’s interest, then gives lessons using a great variety of hands-on materials that encourage children to explore independently and follow their individual interests. These lessons share a common theme of harmony, order, and interdependence. Teaching Physical Science in an elementary Montessori class is a great way to quench the thirst of knowledge that children in second development of plane have.
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Maria Montessori recognized the need of purposeful interactions with this world for children. She called children in the second plane of development “reasoning minds.” These children are curious and natural observers. Through the study of physical science children get the tools to understand phenomenon in this world. Maria Montessori stated, “[t]he work of education is divided between the teacher and the environment” (Montessori, 1967, P.149). If the teacher gives inclusive information that sparks child’s imagination and triggers curiosity, children will have a deeper understanding of the world.
As a Montessori guide, it is important to follow a sequence of lessons. These lessons not only inspire students to take on research projects but also help children develop observations capacities and skills in measuring, recording and describing. We start with the laws of universe and talk about matter which leads to elements then atoms and molecules which help them to understand the chemistry involved in everything. The children use materials and the presentation to learn the process. To understand why things behave in a certain way, they can perform experiments carefully set up by the teacher.
The teacher must utilize task analysis before choosing the materials for any experiment. Each experiment has a scientific method that needs to be followed. It begins with asking a question, forming a hypothesis, planning a procedure, conducting an experiment, and ends with record data. As a Montessori guide if we direct them to explore it in a scientific way and give them a methodological way to form a hypothesis and conduct experiments to figure out the answers to their queries, the children can learn facts in a way that they can relate to. The Montessori philosophy is to experience it through the environment that is relatable to the real world. The role of the guide is to provide an environment that adds a love to exploration and could reach to precisions.
Maria Montessori emphasized that, “[t]o teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relationship between things is to bring knowledge” (Montessori, 2007, P.55). In the Montessori setting, physical science is integrated in history/ geography curriculum and other sciences as well. The curriculum is organized into a spiral of integrated studies. For example, the lesson on measurement starts with history of measurement when people had to use king’s body parts as a standard unit to build things. The lesson also includes how Romans, English and other ancient civilizations changed the unit of length overtime. Finally, introducing the unit of measure with the quantity using a paper clip. This allows the children to understand the concrete idea of measurement and also give the natural propensity to discover so they could be proficient to problem solve and creative thinking. The lessons that follow integrates independence as they start using the rulers to measure real stuff like shelves or carpet in the classroom. Montessori guide also stresses the gratitude that we feel toward past generations in their search of knowledge. This way children learn to respect the studies of the past, therefore, the physical science curriculum integrates exploration, gratitude and independence through these methodical lessons.
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Another great experience that 6-9 years old children enjoy is doing experiments that are followed by all the lessons in the physical science. Doing the experiments teach them to be patient, attentive and precise with their work. For example, when we talk about the composition of water, the children acquire the interest that they will be able to study deeper later in life. The Montessori guide gives idea that might awaken their interest in chemistry and the idea that “water may invisibly from a third reality gives the impression of something magic” (Montessori, 2007, P.40). Therefore, children are able to realize the relationship of macrocosmic within the microcosmic. Once this idea is internalized by the children, they are able to understand abstract phenomenon without any struggle. Hence, Physical Science curriculum integrates the “awe” and “Oh, Yes!” through these experiments and also avoids adult’s tendency to limit the child’s natural propensity to discover.
- Montessori, M. (1967). The discovery of the child. Notre Dame, Ind., Fides Publishers
- Montessori, M. (2007). From Childhood to Adolescence. Montessori-Pearson Publishing Company
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