A Closer Look at Teaching Science in an Exemplary Manner

“They allow their students to have wonderful ideas, to make connections for themselves, to build their repertoire of understanding, and to discover solutions to their own questions.”

(The Voices of Exemplary Science Teachers, p. 38).

To be an exemplary science teacher can mean a number of things. It can mean that you provide an inviting place for students to experience science. It can mean you model curiosity and inquiry. It can mean you “seize the teachable moment”. It can mean you strive to keep your students excited about the endless possibilities. Or, it can mean all these things and much more!

In my opinion, one way to become an exemplary science teacher is to make your class memorable.

Twenty years from now, your students will likely struggle to recall what the chemical symbol for Plutonium is if they only ever learned from traditional textbook and worksheet style instruction. In fact, they may not even be able to remember it for the test next week!

Textbooks and worksheets are “curiosity crushing” means of instruction…

Instead of having your students attempt to learn the art and nature of science via reading a likely outdated textbook, dive into learning science with your students by providing a place where they can ask questions, become energized, and want to pursue the endeavor of learning science.

Here are some ways to inspire!

  • If possible, take students outside of the classroom to explore an aspect of science in an outdoor setting
  • Give students ample opportunities to collaborate with their classmates and really think…
  • Provide a safe place where questions are encouraged
  • Promote playful contemplation among all students in a class
  • Allow wonder and curiosity to drive–not a set-in-stone curriculum
Four Ways to Get Elementary Students Excited About Science - Vernier
  1. A Lesson Plan for Thought:

At the beginning of a unit, give students an open-ended question that would be difficult to answer with a google search. An example of such a question could be: What makes the sun burn continuously? What are the implications for us on Earth if we are able to replicate this process? How would we do that?

Place students into groups where they will meet periodically throughout the unit to freely discuss the prompt and engage with the material.

Throughout the unit, provide engaging hands on activities, models, and information that would ensure students are on the right path.

Finally, have students create a visual project based on the prompt such as an animated video, a piece of art, or an engaging infographic. Present as a team to the class!

2. Another Lesson Plan:

Water Quality and Implications…

If permitted, find different water sources with your students and have them collect vials of water from a variety of sources.

Discuss in detail what students predict to be in the water and how they might test their hypothesis? Collaborate with the whole class to design a laboratory procedure to discover the contents of the vial.

Once the water is tested, guide the students to uncover the reason for different chemical substances being in our water systems. Are they good/bad/neutral? Did these chemicals most likely arrive by nature or did humans contaminate the water?

Create a class board of the questions, the process, the findings, and everything in between in a “web style” fashion so students can visualize how everything connects.

Concept mapping can help students visualize their learning.

Overall, there are a number of ways to ensure that you are teaching science in a manner that not just conveys information, but promotes curiosity, wonder, and passion for the sciences. Strive to become what it means to be an exemplary science teacher to help your students grow!


  1. Emilia, I absolutely love the section “Here are some ways to Inspire!” that you wrote. The tips you give are so great, I especially like the one where you urge teachers to take students outside of the classroom to explore an aspect of science in an outdoor setting. This is so important to keep students’ attention while making class exciting and memorable! I loved this section of your blog because it is concise while still conveying powerful points!

    -Lauren Vajentic

  2. Emilia-
    I loved your blog post! One thing I noticed is that you used inclusive pictures of people engaging in science. I think it is so important that exemplary teachers use visuals and pictures that are representative of diversity and inclusion practices. Especially in science, when too often, children are growing up and seeing a limited perception of who scientists are, and who scientists can be. I also really liked the picture you chose with all the kids surrounding one another engaging in a hands-on activity together. I think that image captures so many aspects of exemplary teaching, the biggest aspect I see is that it is student centered. The teacher isn’t even included in the picture, which I think speaks volumes to the fact that curiosity, wondering, and questioning, and multiple student perspectives are driving where this lab goes! I also really liked your lesson plan that starts with that open-ended question about the sun burning constantly. What would be an example of an activity or model you would use to make sure students are headed in the right direction with this unit?

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