Archived InformationState of the Art: Science - September 1993
The teacher engages students in problem solving by asking probing questions, promoting inquiry, and guiding discussion with use of hands-on materials. Facilitation also takes being well acquainted with resources-whether they be curriculum materials, technology, community members or professional colleagues with special expertise, or institutional resources such as museums or science centers, and a capacity to draw on these resources as the need develops. "When students' investigations lead them down an exciting but unexpected path, having experimental materials or reference tools at hand or having a knowledgable colleague to call on can turn a `teachable moment' into a lifetime of understanding. Good teachers are accustomed to responding to children's short- and long-term intellectual and emotional needs, but to do so in the context of scientific inquiry requires a special kind of preparedness and sensitivity" (Bird, 1992). It takes a deep understanding of basic science concepts and a willingness to not always be the "authority" to be comfortable teaching science in an experimental mode.
For teachers to be successful facilitators of children's science learning, a great deal of support must be made available to them both within the school and from the broader professional community. They cannot do this without support from professional colleagues. They must have opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences with other teachers and with colleagues from the science and education community, to reflect on their teaching, to read research and contribute to it as part of a research team.