Science is a fascinating subject, and with all there is to explore and all the hands-on activities there are to perform, it’s no wonder that it’s the favorite school subject for so many kids.
When learning about science, though, students encounter a lot of unfamiliar and challenging vocabulary in their science books. Challenging vocabulary presents us with a dilemma: slow down and find out what the word means, or just keep going?
We often choose the second way because it’s less effort, but that can come at an actual cost. We’re limiting our learning, missing out on information that might be important, and possibly setting ourselves up for struggles ahead since that vocabulary might be essential to understanding upcoming material.
Learning Science Vocabulary
Let’s look at some steps to learning and mastering new vocabulary found in science books. You can even do them ahead of time so that when the actual reading and studying begin, you won’t have to slow down over those words.
- Start a vocabulary quest by skimming through the chapter or section to look for unfamiliar and vital words. These words are often emphasized with bolding or italics in science books, making them easier to spot. Make a list of all of these words.
- Narrow your list. Pick 3-5 words you want to learn. This tactic helps keep the task manageable and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed.
- Read the words and text around them, and use tools to find out what they mean. Sometimes you can use contextual clues to figure out what a word means. A definition will follow a vital term in science books or flip to the book’s glossary for help. If none of that works, then use an online or paper dictionary.
- Make flashcards. Write the word on one side and the definition, and maybe a sentence using the word as well, on the other. Use the flashcards to practice with the words until you have them down and can also use them in a sentence of your own.
- For extra mastery, seek out other sources that use these words. It will help you see their importance and application beyond the textbook.
This process is an easy, fun, and successful system for learning science vocabulary that might otherwise be an obstacle to learning.