Biology For Curious Kids

Written by: Everett Lu and Anya Li, FCSN Youth Volunteer Instructors

Graphics by: Kaavya Saini, FCSN Voices Graphic Artist

Originally starting as our passion for biological sciences, Biology for Curious Kids has since blossomed into a virtual enrichment program to help kids with special needs learn about biology and its applications to the real world. Through cartoons and thoughtful explanations, the class focuses on engaging students and aiding them in discovering the ever-changing world. We try to make this class as interactive as possible by having the students compete in kahoots, answer questions, or just talk about their day. 

Specifically, the purpose of this class is to give students a basic but solid understanding of biology, while also nurturing an interest in the field. To construct this supportive environment, we would present engaging examples of each topic covered and work together with students to remember the material. Communication is also important: learning students’ likes, dislikes, and learning styles helps us structure classes to fit everyone’s needs. We have found that with a structured class, students can more easily follow along and understand the connections between all the topics.

Each hour-long class starts with a quick recap of the previous lesson to remind students of what we have been learning. Then, we dive into that week’s lesson, which usually covers around four pages of the course textbook, Biology for Curious Kids. Throughout the course, so far, we have covered the human body, botany, zoology, and are now exploring ecology. In order to give students a more concrete understanding of class topics, we provide examples and practice opportunities whenever they can. For instance, when teaching about life cycles, we showed images of chicken life cycles and of caterpillars going through metamorphosis. While learning about food chains, we also encouraged students to practice with a food chain game from Sheppard Software. 

Though the class is fun for both instructors and students, it comes with its challenges. For example, sometimes students struggle to keep up with the pace of the class, especially in lessons covering difficult biological concepts. To accommodate, we slow the speed down and repeat the content so that students can really understand it. We also make sure to not discuss too much content at once to ensure that students have a stronger grasp on everything taught during the lecture that day. 

The primary focus is on quality of understanding over quantity of material. During lessons, we will host one or two Kahoot games, during which students can answer questions about the lecture while having fun. This keeps students engaged and makes sure they have fully comprehended the topic. Encouraging questions from students and answering them also reiterates the idea over and over in their minds and furthers their understanding. For the last few minutes of class, we would ask the students about their week to give them a little bit of a break and allow them to celebrate their achievements for that day’s class.

Moving forward, we hope to continue hosting the virtual classes and instilling an interest in biology in FCSN students. 

Everett Lu is a student at Burlingame High School. He is fascinated by how science, especially biology, impacts our world through technological advances such as CRISPR, and discusses this information frequently with friends at school. 

Anya Li attends Valley Christian High School. She has always been fascinated with all fields of STEM and this class was a chance for her to work with others and talk about science every chance she gets.

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