Science 101: A Primer
Tools for the Curious Child and Supportive Parent
How does that happen? How does that work? What makes that do that?
Inquiring minds want to know. As a child, I was curious like so many children, who always wondered about things around me, and who loved the facts that were given to me. Whether it was exploring backyard nature with my sisters, visiting my dad at the hospital or his office, making science experiments with my grandfather (an electrician and artist), all of these collectively fueled my passion for learning.
Because science was a natural part of my life growing up, I ended up getting my degrees in Biology, Psychology and Chemistry and worked in these fields for several years. Yet, I still loved art and creating. I loved playing dolls with my sisters. I explored my interests and developed several side hobbies in the arts, which lead me to creating joyababy. The same curiosity that exists in the sciences also exists in the arts—How do I make this? Draw this? Create this?
I was similar to my own children, as well as every child who is fascinated by a variety of play and interests. As parents, we do not know which interests our children will end up studying or loving. And realistically all curiosities, whether a talent in the sciences or arts, can be developed at one point in their lives.
So how do we foster the inquiring mind, the curious child who is interested in how the world around them works?
Often, we find we do not have the perfect answers for our children, and the ones we have or look up can seem above their level of comprehension. If you are not a “science-loving” adult in the sense that you hate the thought of Biology 101, think of science in a non-structured way. If you can put the smell of dissection frogs out of your mind, you will realize that you can easily weave everyday science into your family’s lives. Ultimately it is just like helping your creative child gather the necessary art supplies for their ongoing masterpiece.
Instead of heading to a store to spend money on a science kit, (even though there are some pretty cool ones out there) think of gathering up the necessary tools for science discovery in the community around you.
With the help of my 7 year old son, we created a list of ideas to get started:
The Great Outdoors: Probably one of the most obvious ways to engage and answer questions about the world around us is found in nature.
-Observing nature in a variety of settings and seasons
-Taking photos, drawing pictures, writing about what is observed.
Basic Supplies: Binoculars, Magnifying Glass, Notepad/Pencil, Camera, a curious child and parent chaperone.
Extra Supplies: Collection tubes for viewing samples of water, bugs or leaves under a microscope at home and a Field Guide from local library.
Field Trips: Another relatively easy concept is to explore what your community has to offer in the area of sciences. Even though many children visit these places during school day field trips, one can really benefit from a trip with their family where they are not rushed, and can focus on a particular area of a museum. Often, my children will come home after a field trip and speak about one area they loved or one area they wished they had seen and usually that is a place we start when we revisit.
-State parks and natural habitats
-Local zoo and aquarium
-Gardens, lakes and beaches
-Fossil creek bed
Basic Supplies: Passes to the Museums or Local Attractions (Check local libraries who often have free passes that you can check out!) Notepad/Pencil, Books on topics for pre-reading, we like the DK Eyewitness Series of Books.
Extra Supplies: Special Tours with Experts and Special Exhibits.
Finding Answers: Look beyond the Internet. I know it is 2010, but I do believe we should give our children tools beyond the computer for learning. This is especially true for young learners who may be involved in doing some basic “research.”
-Visit the public library and pick out age appropriate books.
-Flip through a newspaper and weather report.
-Collect evidence to a question your child may have through a physical exploration and then come up with an educated guess.
-Interview a specialist or role model in the field of inquiry.
Easy Experiments: My boys love experiments at home. Here are a few sites we visit to get ideas…
The most important thing to remember is to not be intimated by science but rather think of it as another learning experience for your child. All children have curiosities that need to be kindled, and they all look up to their parents for guidance. Providing that spark can fuel the fire of their passions for years to come.