Does it ever happen to you that you want to teach a subject to students but first you have to capture their flying minds and focus their attentions on the subject? This won’t be a problem with subjects that are inherently interesting for kids such as dinosaurs and fictional stories but will be difficult with non-fictional subjects. How can we foster kids’ curiosity in “not” very attractive subjects like science or math? How does our brain react?
Chloe is a 3rd and 4th grades teacher. Her classroom has 22 students. Today subject in her classroom is studying different food chains and their relationships. She started with raising a question, “Where do we get our food?”. Answers are a bit irrelevant and it seems students are distracted and have a problem to sort out their minds. “Keeping their attentions is a challenge,” says Chloe, “as every student has different background and mindset.” But there is one method, which almost works for everyone. She loves to use visual materials before starting to open a subject. She believes using visuals can help retain kids’ attention and sort out their minds, also It triggers their curiosity in learning.
Benefits of using visuals in education
The benefits of using visuals in education have been studies for a long time. These advantages lead us to a better quality of learning environment based on:
- Enhancing long-term memories
- Faster message transmission
- Improving comprehension
- Better critical thinking
- Better creative thinking
- Increasing students’ attention, motivation, and curiosity
We have tested these findings using our recently released application, Triassic Era. Triassic Era is an educational application for teaching life and Earth science targeted at 3rd and 4th grades students. It demonstrates adaptation, biological evolution, relations between different species, a history of Earth and the effects of environmental changes on ecosystem dynamics. Teaching these concepts in a traditional way may take a lot of effort with no promising results in learning. However, the visual materials in Triassic Era application help educators create an engaging learning environment. Emily, a 4th-grade student, mentions that she likes Cynodont’s life very much. She says, “I had no idea about this creature, he is so real, I want to see how his baby looks like, how does his skin feel?”
There is no doubt educators and parents can benefit from visual methods in teaching. Let’s look one level deeper and see how brain works during learning through visuals. A better performance means stronger connections between different brain regions. Inside occipital lobe, there is visual cortex which is responsible for processing visual information. The next steps are categorizing and encoding the visual information. The limbic regions mainly located inside temporal lobe have the role of transforming encoded information into memory.The cerebrum is the largest part of brain and includes frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. It performs thinking and learning functionalities. Using visual materials in learning lead to a triangle connection between frontal, temporal and occipital lobes, which is associated with functions such as attention, long-term memory, creative and critical thinking.