The scientific method as a way of thinking and learning

By October 5, 2018

Many of the great innovations of the last few decades came about through the application of the scientific method. GPS navigation, hybrid cars, advances in biomedicine and biomechanics. All of these have been possible through the methodology of observing, predicting, researching, testing, recording, analyzing… and then predicting and testing all over again based on the outcomes produced. At Oak Meadow, you will see students applying the scientific method all over the school, even with the youngest children.

Fully engaged in the work of discovery

Recently I sat with a group of Children’s House students  who were using the scientific method to explore colors. They were first introduced to all of the materials needed for this scientific investigation: a graduated cylinder, beaker, Erlenmeyer flask, food coloring (red, blue, green, yellow, and purple), and water. Next the teacher asked, “What do you think will happen when two colors are mixed together?” The students conducted five different trials using different colors. Two colors were selected for the first trial, and the students were asked to brainstorm what they thought would happen when the colors were mixed. The students used a chart to record their data — the two colors mixed, their prediction, and the actual result. The students were deeply engaged, making predictions and discussing why the outcomes may have been different from what they had expected.

Thinking like a scientist is not limited to science classes at Oak Meadow. The methodology of observing, hypothesizing, researching, creating, and innovating is built into the philosophy of teaching and learning throughout every subject and classroom. Because of this, graduates from Oak Meadow arrive at high schools with a distinct advantage over many other students. To attest to this, I would like to share with you the comments I heard this week when I visited with the admissions directors from two of the finest independent high schools in our region. Here is what they told me:

  • “Oak Meadow students are intelligent and articulate. They are able to take discussions to a whole new level. Oak Meadow students are absolutely equipped to flourish. They are hardwired for this. The soft skills which are so critical to success are second nature to them. More than graduates from other schools, Oak Meadow students come imbued with an interdisciplinary approach. They don’t think in silos. They think broadly, and that’s what the world wants. They have a true appreciation of the big picture. They grapple with big and complex issues. Yet they are grounded and not too big for their britches. They are so smart, but they are unpretentious and give of themselves.”
  • “Oak Meadow students are not traditional. They are actively engaged as learners. They are holistic and arrive at our school wanting to pursue many different interests. They are cool and unique. They are their own people. They don’t follow the crowd, yet they fit in with others in a way that is true to themselves. They perform at high academic levels. Your graduates have been taught to be engaged, to be explorers, and to know themselves. In this era of innovation and entrepreneurship, your graduates arrive here well prepared.”

That is what all parents want for their child!