For hundreds of years, or even thousands, the field of Science has fascinated a multitude of people that walked the planet. Stretching from the powerful observations of ancient Greek intellectuals like Archimedes and Democritus; medieval geniuses like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Nicolaus Copernicus who went against the grain with his then-controversial heliocentrism; 19th-20th century Nobel Prize winners Ernest Rutherford and Albert Einstein; to homegrown scientists and inventors like Angel Alcala and Fe del Mundo, the long list goes on as how Science has been making a huge influence on the lives of many people in the world, especially young students.
Since Science has a variety of branches to be explored, students who have budding interests in the subject might be wondering about many things, but this question will remain as one of the learners’ top queries: “Where could I start honing my scientific skills?”
The answer: the school science laboratory.
Here is why at Keys, we ensure that our science laboratory lives up to the standard of providing an excellent avenue for students to think of scientific ideas and be immersed in experiential and experimental learning—the hallmarks of progressive education.
But how does the Keys Science laboratory reflect a true progressive education? Keys School Manila’s Science and Tech Ed Coordinator Iris Therese Bonjoc - Velasco explains in detail how aligned our school laboratory is to progressive education.
“The Keys Science laboratory physically embodies the school's educational philosophy by providing an environment that promotes active learning, inquiry, inclusivity, collaboration, excellence, individualization, practicality, and innovation in science. It aligns with the broader educational goals and values of the school.
- Hands-on Learning: The laboratory provides a hands-on learning environment, allowing students to engage with scientific concepts and experiments actively. The intentional use of the laboratory aligns with the school's philosophy of experiential and practical learning, where students learn by doing rather.
- Inquiry-Based Approach: The Keys Science laboratory promotes inquiry-based learning, where students are encouraged to ask questions, explore, and investigate. This approach reflects the school's philosophy of fostering curiosity and critical thinking, as students are encouraged to seek answers to their questions.
- Inclusivity and Diversity: The laboratory is designed to accommodate students from various backgrounds and abilities, reflecting the school's commitment to inclusivity and diversity. This inclusive environment ensures that all students have equal access to scientific exploration, aligning with the school's philosophy of providing an equitable education.
- Collaborative Learning: Many science experiments and projects are collaborative in nature. The planned activities in the laboratory encourage students to work together, share ideas, and learn from one another. Social interaction is an essential educational tool.
- Individualized Learning: While collaboration is encouraged, the laboratory may also allow for individualized learning experiences. Students can explore areas of science that particularly interest them, aligning with the school's philosophy of recognizing and nurturing each student's unique talents and interests.
- Practical Application: The laboratory emphasizes the practical application of scientific principles. This aligns with the school's philosophy of connecting classroom learning to real-world situations, demonstrating the relevance of scientific knowledge.
- Experimental and Innovative: If the laboratory encourages experimentation and innovation, it reflects the school's philosophy of fostering creativity and adaptability. Students are encouraged to experiment, take risks, and think outside the box.”
The study of Duban et.al (2019) puts in concise terms what the Keys Science laboratory promotes. The study states that the school science laboratory plays a crucial role in “[developing] students’ active participation in the learning process” and “fill[ing] the gap between theory and practice” because “laboratory applications help students define the concepts of science in a more comprehensive and meaningful manner” (p. 772). This is strongly affirmed by Secondary Science teacher Sofia Saguyod: “Students learn best when they can explore and perform practical activities. For my Biology classes, we use the lab to answer questions that we only know in theory. For example, in our topic about ecosystems, the students are tasked to formulate a research question and design their own experiment. This fosters inquiry skills, as students will generate their own research questions based on what they know and what they would want to know about the topic. Students also practice their collaboration and problem-solving skills, as this task is performed in groups. When designing their experiment, they need to come up with a feasible methodology, and this requires students to communicate and find solutions to possible issues that may arise.”
The laboratory is where the students perform experiments or practical applications of theories they learned in class, that is why the Science teachers’ conscious effort of making it a safe space is a prime concern. As Teacher Sofia shares, “Student safety in the lab is one of my priorities. This emergency eyewash and shower station is used in case a student accidentally splashes a chemical or any hazardous substance onto his/her face or body. This will provide immediate aid in minimizing the effects of the substance on the skin. In line with this, we also have other safety features such as a first aid kit, fire extinguishers, and a separate room for chemicals and glassware.” Keys Science teachers are prepared to oversee their students and extend necessary assistance to make sure that each step during experiment time is a safe step. Scientific learning and students’ safety are observed at all times.
It is no wonder why the great Marie Curie expressed her thoughts about being a scientist this way: “A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.” Truly, the Keys School science laboratory is a space where learners are scientists: this is a place where they can have the seeds of Science be germinated in their minds and hearts and reap the good fruits of their hard work in their pursuit of knowledge, all in the name of good progress, all being included in the long list of scientists who made a positive difference.
Duban, N., Aydoğdu, B., & Yüksel, A. (2019). Classroom teachers' opinions on Science laboratory practices. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 7(3). DOI: 10.13189/ujer.2019.070317
“Let’s Explore” is a series of blogs which features Keys School Manila’s facilities and highlights their valuable contribution to promoting progressive education and nurturing lifelong learners.