At age 10, kids are experiencing a renewed understanding of self and society.
On the cognitive front, they can gather and express central ideas from a lesson or reading comprehension. They can write essays expressing their own opinions clearly. In Mathematics, they can do word problems, convert measuring units, and get introduced to fractions, scales, charts, and additional concepts in geometry.
Kids at this age experience more stamina, coordination skills, and balancing skills than the previous grade.
Many of them show an inclination to one or the other sport. For some others, it could be performing arts, or early signs of aptitude for science or math. ‘Science’ itself is a wide spectrum in this context, including science at home or in different vocations (e.g. ‘how things work’), physics and chemistry, natural sciences, microbiology, astronomy, geology, etc.
Hobbies like collecting stamps, coins, unique rocks, sports cards or other things are common at this age. This is all because there is an improved sense of ‘me’ – liking/disliking, body image, etc. Kids are also extremely social and identify with their groups in schools and neighborhoods.
Implications for nature education
Kids at this age usually receive their first formal but preliminary introduction to sciences like geology, astronomy, and possibly ecology. They should know that the Earth is a unique planet, supporting life. The history of Earth and history of life on Earth should be discussed in more detail than earlier grades.
Concepts like biosphere, biomes, ecosystems and habitats and be discussed in greater detail than before. E.g. Food chains/webs, impact of climate on ecosystems, sharing of resources by species, and human impact on ecosystems can be explored.
A framework of the five basic human needs – air, water, food, shelter, and clothes – can be used to explore man-nature relationship. The way Homo Sapiens got these needs served in the past and present can be explored, discussed, and compared. The complexity of human-made networks and industrial processes to serve these needs, the intensity of materials and energy in serving them, can be highlighted. Inequality of resources among humans is also a topic for discussion and understanding.
At this level, students can also begin to appreciate the concept of a nation and it’s natural resources. The diversity of natural systems (e.g. rivers, forests, deserts, mountains) and resources within our country can be discussed with the help of maps. In each system, local species dependent on unique habitats and local resources can be highlighted. In case of food, diversity of local seeds and their association with geo-climatic regions can be illustrated.
Finally, their improved understanding of the human society can be leveraged to provide an introduction to environmental challenges like pollution, land use change, waste creation, habitat loss, species extinction, global warming, and climate change.
The two stories narrated in Grade 3 – story of evolution and story of man’s relationship with nature — can be revisited as required, and more details can be filled in, as they connect to all the topics mentioned above.