Academic journal article Science and Children

SEEING SCIENCE IN HAIKU: Primary Students Explore Connections between Science and Writing

Academic journal article Science and Children

SEEING SCIENCE IN HAIKU: Primary Students Explore Connections between Science and Writing

Article excerpt

To achieve widespread, well-received knowledge dissemination, scientific writing must be precise, persuasive, and presentable. Thus, by definition, haiku writing is a logical choice by which to introduce young learners to effective scientific writing. In its traditional form, haiku is a Japanese poem intended for comparing imagery in nature, using only 17 syllables divided over three lines of five, seven, and five. Practiced for centuries by ancient writers and Samurai warriors alike, haiku allows writers to capture and comment upon natural observations in a powerful and succinct manner that persuades a reader to view the world as the author saw it. Both haiku's subject matter and precise format can help students relate science and math skills to a more diverse audience. Haiku requires an exactness that can only be achieved through reflection, revision, and active choice on the part of the writer--skills that are imperative for any successful scientist. This article goes through a step-by-step process that teaches young students (grades K--2) to write haikus and creatively report their observations, inquiries, and experiments.

Creatively writing about science can appear to be an illogical task for early childhood educators to pursue, but writing across the curriculum helps young students grasp the importance of expressing their ideas, inventions, and innovations. In her TED talk entitled "Talk Nerdy to Me," Melissa Marshall (2012) pleads with scientists (of any age) to engage and excite audiences about their content by "having examples, stories, and analogies" that make ideas more accessible without "dumbing it down." So to help young science writers successfully find the "story" behind their science, try writing haikus.

Getting Started: The Art of Science

While traditionally believed to be a factually based pursuit, science study actually requires a beauty and eloquence usually associated with the subjective expressiveness of artists. To help students tap into the beauty of the scientific world, structure guided outdoor play that includes ample time for observation, reflection, and discussion. Preparations for creative science writing can begin with the following mini-lessons in the classroom.

Looking With an "Artist's Eye"

Finding the art that exists in science can be achieved by challenging students to look at naturally occurring phenomena with their "artist's eye." Have students take a second look at everyday occurrences and consider what they could represent, what they could connect to, or what they could be manipulated into. To orient scientific students to this more creative viewing process, model how to look past a surface-level consideration in order to unearth newfound beauty in the observable world. For example, show an image of a spider (see Figure 1) and encourage students to share their initial feelings and thoughts about it--most responses will probably reflect squeals of fear or disgust. After that, display an image depicting dewdrops caught in a spider web. For maximum impact, start by showing a close-up of the image so that it is not instantly recognizable, which will allow students to comment on the image as "artwork." Most comments will probably be more positive and awe-inspired. Once revealed as a spider web, discuss the interconnectedness of the two images and ask students to rethink the beauty of all natural objects with respect to their purpose and place in the world.

With regards to looking at the world through artists' eyes, Maxine Greene (1995) advocated seeing big and seeing small. When applied to this process, encourage students to see small--from a detached distance--and big--close-up, personal, detailed, and interconnected. As an example, to see just "a tree," show a wide-framed image of a tree and then zoom into "the complicated geometric shapes that are made by the crossing branches" or show an underground view of a "mess of roots" versus "a beautifully intricate root network. …

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