Matt Wordsworth from ABC 730 reports on a bold experiment in a Brisbane primary school undertaken by a science teacher, Ian Stuart, who assumes that young minds are much more advanced than we think.
Ian believes we educators are pitching the ideas to them too late, and that eight-year-olds absorb Atomic Theory.
Robyn Williams of the ABC's The Science Show explains that the normal school curricula generally introduce students to ideas of atoms, molecules and the Periodic Table in high school.
But Ian Stuart says it’s too late. Students have often formed ideas about their future by this stage and there are sometimes blockages about science being too hard. So why wait? He says they easily latch onto the ideas and are excited by chemistry."
This article written by Ian Stuart in the British Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) argues that we should teach chemistry at primary school- quite a controversial proposition given the current curriculum and classroom practice.
It sparked an extensive discussion within the UK science education community, both for and against the proposition. Ian hopes this discussion will be ongoing.
Authored by Ian Stuart for the Bristish peak body the Association of Science Education (ASE) this article advocates for primary school teachers to include Atomic Theory in their lessons.
It suggests a learning sequence which have been successfully tried and tested over hundreds of classes and dozens of schools, and includes many practical tips on how to teach the topic, including videos, hands-on materials and other resources.
The host of the ABC Radio National Conversations, Richard Fidler, introduces Ian Stuart for the University of Melbourne's Festival of Ideas.
Ian who taught Physics and Chemistry at Years 11 and 12 levels in various states and countries for 25 years, developed teaching methods to teach ADVANCED Atomic theory at YEAR THREE level and upwards. His goal is now to spread this method across all Australian schools.
In his TEDx talk, science teacher Ian Stuart, poses the question "What if we delayed teaching the alphabet to our children until they were 15 years of age?" The answer, he proposes, would be stunting of our social and technological potential on a civilisation-wide scale.
The Periodic Table is another alphabet that our society really does ignore teaching until our children are 15 years years of age- that is, until high school. This diminishes our society's scientific literacy and human potential perhaps by an order of magnitude.
Herein lies a vast educational opportunity just waiting to be tapped. And it's easily done, he says.
Bangkok Patana School (BPS) is the oldest and most respected British international school in Thailand. Host to prestigious international conferences, BPS introduced the teaching of Atomic Theory within their primary school, thus leveraging the future success of science education of their students in their journey into high school and beyond.
BPS adopted The Stuart Method for this implementation.
ABC Radio National Afternoons program host Michael Mackenzie reports that for one class of six-year-olds, the prospect of learning about Atomic Theory and how the Universe is constructed is making them run to class.
He interviews science education researcher, Dr Carole Haeusler and science teacher, Ian Stuart, who have collaborated in this program.
This episode reports how the teaching of atoms, the building blocks of the Universe. and how this is usually reserved for the last few years of high school. But maybe that's not how it should be. Sarah found out about a school in Brisbane that reckons you're never too young for some of the biggest ideas in science.