America is behind when it comes to the sciences and mathematics. When rated alongside the 40 most advanced countries in the world, the United States comes in at a depressing number 38 when it comes to graduating science majors. And that’s not all. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology have found through their research that almost 40% of university students who start out in sciences or engineering will eventually change over to different subjects.
Fixing the Problem
One way to correct this problem and capture the mind of America’s children when it comes to the sciences is by using good visuals. As many as 65% of all students are thought to learn visually, and this is especially important for the youngest children whose brains are still very flexible. Whether you’re talking about health education products, anatomical chart digestive system, brain with skull, or a female anatomy chart, any of these charts and visuals can help students grasp some elements of science and find them interesting, setting those students on the path toward success.
How to Effectively Use Visuals
Just having that brain with skull out on a desk is not enough. It’s important to know how to employ it in a way that children will find useful.
- Display and explain. Put your chart, diagram, or brain with skull out there for the kids to see after or as you’re talking about the issue. It’s not terribly effective to just sprinkle the room with children’s portion plate posters or an exercise calorie chart. Visuals need to be put out when they’re spoken of.
- Break the previous rule. Once in a while, you do want to put out a visual or chart without saying anything about it. Use this tactic strategically, however. Only do it with visuals that are particularly interesting or arresting. The point here is to get the students interested and curious about it so that when you’re ready to explain they are ready to listen.
- Change things up often. Replace that brain with skull with a fetal model. Follow that up with the giant toothbrush. Just make sure that you’re rotating visuals regularly so that students are getting the full benefit of applying visual learning to their other learning processes.
- Have the students create their own. If students are engaged in creativity and using all their senses, they are going to remember what you teach them much better. Once you’ve shown them a chart or visual, asked them to create something similar on their own. Youngest children could start by copying the visual they’ve already seen, while older children can start learning to extrapolate the ideas from one chart to other applications.
- Use charts and visuals in homework assignments. Not only can the students use visuals in the class, but asking them to go home and create a chart or diagram can be very helpful for their long-term learning. For example, ask students to go around their house and find all the shapes that have three sides. They can take pictures of these and put it on their chart. For somewhat older students, ask them to diagram the cell of the plant.
Why This Works
Why do visuals and charts work so well? Words and ideas are abstract, and the more abstract a thing is the more difficult it is for us to remember it. Things that we see are far more powerful to us than things that we only hear, and visuals can decrease learning time as well as increase retention rate. This is simply the way our brains work, and this is why you can expend hours of effort trying to memorize a list of mathematical formulas that you’ll forget three months later but can remember your first kiss even though you weren’t trying to remember it at the time.
More than anything else, that brain with skull may help spur an interest in STEM major study and your child or your student. Start using effective visuals and charts in your learning and today’s students will be thanking you tomorrow.