Thursday, February 21, 2008

Homegrown Scientists

In Einey's school, there is such a focus on reading, writing and math, that the teacher is only allowed 20 minutes a week for science and history. 20 minutes! So when I saw the topic for this week's parent blogger blast, I just had to share some of the ways we've brought science back to our kids.

Science is all around us. It's prevalent throughout nature and the natural world. Last summer, when the girls found this cicada emerging from it's pupal state, we watched. And took pictures. And discussed. And then we looked it up on the computer. We frequently take hikes in the woods on our letterboxing quests. On our hikes, we discuss weather (and how it changes - we've been caught out in the woods in rain bursts), we identify plants and animals. We look under rocks and logs. We catch frogs and salamanders. In short, we take the time to really look at our surroundings and discuss the hows, the whys, the whats. How things change and why they change. How every little creature affects other creatures.

In addition, we do experiments with our gardens. When planting seeds inside for the spring, we measure and chart their progress. When building our sunflower house, we measured the sunflowers, first from seedlings with a ruler, then outside with the kids. We discussed how the plants were growing and then when they finished their growth, how they provided nectar for the bees and lastly seeds for the birds. In the spring, I have a suspicion we'll discuss the life cycle circle they made, as I am sure we'll have new sunflowers sprouting in the garden.

We've done sink or float test with them gathering objects and making predictions. Currently, we have a crystal growing on the counter in the kitchen.* We've frozen water and watched it melt. We mix water and other liquids to see what's heavier. We've looked at the viscosity of different liquids. We take tours where they are offered - power plants, nature sanctuaries, science center. We've discussed actions and reactions (like the time Husband threw a wooden block at the window - of course it broke). We spend evenings out on the deck looking at the stars. We pull out the telescope and search the sky's. We watch meteor showers and eclipses (Einey was very impressed by the lunar eclipse the other night). We visit science centers on rainy days. We discussed changes that come with the season (and living in New England, we have four very unique seasons each with it's own specific characteristics). Just the other day, we discussed how and why this river changed from autumn to winter. I wasn't at all surprised last week, when Einey's teacher told me they started discussing the water cycle and Einey knew all about it and was able to name the cycles.

Science is all around us. It's all a matter of taking time to look at the little things and really discuss the how and why's. As long as they keep asking questions, we will answer. We'll keep searching under logs, splashing in rivers, filling jars with liquids. We'll keep measuring and labeling and recording. For my girls, science is fun. And learning is a bonus. We will bring science back through hands on fun.

This post was created for the Parent Blogger Network's Friday Blog Blast and the Zula Patrol's Zula Intergalactic Inquirer. They want to know, how will you bring science back for your kids, and why do you think it’s important?

*Because it's a quick and easy science experiment, here's what you do: You need a jar, water, salt, a string and a pencil. Tie the string around the pencil. Fill the jar with water and then salt until the salt is dissolved. Put the pencil over the jar with the string hanging in the jar. As the water dissolves, the salt will crystallize to the string. You can see the results start within hours! Just add a little more water and salt as it dissolves for a bigger crystal.


Fairly Odd Mother said...

These are such great ideas! I am a bit intimidated by science but force myself to cover it with the kids. My oldest LOVES experiments!

And, why can't the schools use science and history to help teach reading or writing (or even math)?

Ryan Velting said...

Sounds like so much fun!!!!!

I'm sorry I haven't been around much, and I wanted to thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers after my accident and during my recovery. I appreciate it very much.

Have a great rest of your weekend, and a wonderful upcoming week.


slouching mom said...

I am impressed. Good for you for incorporating science so seamlessly into your kids' world.