Helping your teenager to succeed in science

Older boy looking through microcope

Award-winning scientist and teacher Dr Mark Butler lists his10 top tips to give your teenager the edge in the study of science.

  1. Encourage your teen to ask questions and help them find the answers.
  2. Talk to your teen about being a good problem solver. Give them increasingly difficult puzzles to solve as they develop more skills. These could be in the form of games or experiments, questions or puzzles, including those found in newspapers such as Sudoko, or physical problems such as jigsaws or 3D models.
  3. Encourage your teen to work with their classmates to discuss issues and solve problems.
  4. Talk to your teen about basing their views on evidence and questioning claims made by others that are not supported by evidence.
  5. Visit places with your teen that will inspire their interest in science. For example, the Australian Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, zoos and aquariums, marine or botanic discovery centres, Questacon in Canberra, and observatories and planetariums.
  6. Be a role model for your children by being interested in the latest discoveries that appear in the media, as well as asking how things work and seeking scientific answers to questions using the internet.
  7. Be enthusiastic about science and the homework and projects your teen is given, and pitch in to help from time to time.
  8. Support and guide your teen with the major independent research projects they will be given from Years 7 to 10, but don't do it for them.
  9. When your teen is studying for the School Certificate in Year 10, suggest they use the Board of Studies website so they can try some of the science questions from past School Certificate papers
  10. Consider buying or borrowing a study guide to help your teen prepare for an examination. Study guides can be bought at educational or commercial bookshops.

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