3 Easy Ways To Foster A Love A Science In Your Kids
By Gillian Burdett
Kids are curious. A beetle crawling across the sidewalk commands the complete attention of a 2-year-old, and 4-year-olds question the why of everything. Tasting mud in the yard is an exercise in data collection; dropping a fork into the garbage disposal to see if it processes the same as a potato peel is an experiment. Kids are born scientists, and feeding that natural tendency will keep the spark of curiosity alive and allow kids to embrace science when it is presented as a formal discipline in school.
Be an Observer of Nature
Your neighborhood provides opportunities for observing the natural world. A pair of binoculars or a magnifying glass, a field guide and a notebook to record observations are all you need to introduce your children to nature. Identify the birds outside your home and research their behaviors and calls online. Your child may be more interested in insects, trees or rocks. Encourage him or her to learn their names and begin a collection. A family trip will offer more opportunities to observe different species.
Take walks in the park with your child. Seek out lily pads on a pond that may hold frog eggs. Look for tadpoles at different stages of growth. Examine milkweed plants for the gilded chrysalis of the monarch butterfly. As children's knowledge of the natural world grows, the more they will want to learn.
The Why of a Physical World
A lecture on Newton's Laws of Motion may be dull, but nothing is dull about launching an apple from a giant slingshot. Incorporating basic laws of physics into fun activities will get young minds thinking and inventing.
An afternoon at the bowling alley is an opportunity to study momentum and some copper wire, a light bulb, a switch and a small battery can become an experiment it electrical circuits.
Your kid's bicycle can be explained as a simple machine with wheel and axle, chain and gears. Challenge your child to figure out how the brakes work and why a bike ride speeds up on the downhills and slows when going uphill.
Science in the Kitchen
Flour and water are just flour and water until you add some fungi. This recipe may not sound appetizing, but it is the basis for bread. The fungi are yeast, microorganisms that will eat the sugar found in flour and release carbon dioxide into the water causing the mixture to rise and form airy loaves of bread. Discover more kitchen chemistry by manipulating sucrose molecules to create fudge and rock candy.
These are just two example of the science behind food preparation. The kitchen is an accessible laboratory where your kids may experiment with recipes or study the properties of different foods. Encourage creation in the kitchen and make sure your children keep notes of each experiment and its results just as scientist records data.
In a safe environment, kids will feel free to explore and learn about their surroundings. Unless children live in an unstable, scary world where they must seek comfort in familiarity, novelty isn't threatening, it is interesting. You can encourage this exploration by providing safe spaces and allowing kids to get a little messy.
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