Here’s how to instill curiosity and a love for the sciences at an early age.
Science is more than memorizing facts and understanding principles. It is a creative thought process that expands learning. Have you heard the expression “learn how to learn?” That’s what scientific exploration helps us to do. Science turns our natural curiosity about the world around us into fascinating discoveries, inspiring us to say “That’s so cool!”.
Nurture an early love for scientific exploration in your kids by engaging their natural curiosity as they play with colorful and interesting toys, such as sensory, critical thinking and building toys. Thought-provoking questions will highlight observations that will help children visualize a scientific principle. This is especially vital to understanding a concept when it is introduced in the school years. You can engage them in the process firsthand with hands-on experiments that allow open-ended experiences. The result is a personalized learning experience that opens doors to self-initiated learning. They’ll want to know more, know how, ask why, and ponder questions such as “what happens if…”
As you play, ask questions such as
● “Which is heavier?” to introduce the concept of weight and measure.
● “What happens if I remove a block from the tower?” to bring attention to balance and structure.
● “Why does it float or sink?” to make them aware of object properties and gravity.
● “How high do I toss the ring if I am further away?” to bring attention to angles, motion and the effect of distance and speed.
● “What does it eat? How does it grow?” to introduce nature and lifecycles.
● “Why does sugar dissolve in water? Or why does gelatin make water stiff?” to highlight chemistry concepts.
Music is also an excellent way to explore scientific principles. Experiment with pitch and rhythm and how to create it, noting the properties that cause changes in sound; for example, increased density, length and vibration.
If you don’t know the answer to the questions, you can find the answer together. When you do, you are modeling the question and research process that leads to self-initiated, independent learning.
Is your child struggling to come up with a science fair project? Many science kits can be turned into science fair projects. By asking a question, developing a hypothesis and using the kit (components or finished product) to conduct the experiments, your child will be introduced to the scientific process through a fun open-ended learning experience that doesn’t feel like school. Look for kits that support exploration of the following scientific areas:
● Paleontology (excavating fossils)
● Astronomy (telescopes)
● Physics (gears & levers building kits, remote control cars, magnet kits)
● Nature: Plants, animals, insects (growing kits, microscopes, binoculars)
● Light and color (prisms)
● Sound (music instruments)
● Electricity and solar energy (building kits, model cars)
● Chemistry (fun food)
● Electronics and Computer Science (robots)
● Earth Science (volcano models, weather)
● Archaeology (historical models)
The do-it-yourself nature of science kits also fuels the same creativity and thinking processes found in arts & crafts and building toys.