Science can be fun
In today's high-tech society it is important that children
develop an interest in science at an early age and see that
science is a part of our lives. By becoming comfortable with
science at an early age, children can reap many long term
benefits. Getting children interested in science does not take a
lot of time and effort. Their natural curiosity will ease the
way. Making it fun is the key element. The learning process in
children happens through play. During play the world is not so
threatening. Kids feel safe, secure and capable. They explore on
their own. There is an old Chinese saying: I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember I do and I understand. Information and
knowledge gained from hands- on activities and self discovery
remains in the long term memory.
There is no need for a special place or equipment for teaching
science to kids. Most of the materials and equipment needed can
be obtained in home, school, grocery store or local hardware
store. Science activity can be carried out with a single kid or
group of kids. It can be carried out whenever you want or
wherever you want. For example when there is nothing to do and
kids are bored. When the weather outside is not friendly. It can
be carried out in the kitchen, in the garden, nature hikes,
beach trips etc..
Science experiments in our house started in the kitchen. One day
when I was baking cookies, my kids were helping. Curious as
usual, they started asking questions. "Why do we add sugar?"
"Why do we add eggs?" "Why do we have to add baking powder?" At
that moment a bulb lighted in my head. We made some cookies
without baking powder and compared. This became a hobby. We
started experimenting with lot of things, sometimes purely on
impulses. But we sure enjoyed that time. Some examples that
quickly come to mind are: a) one day when we were folding
laundry, some clothes had static. They made small cracking
noises and stuck. We had fun learning and experimenting with lot
of other things that produce static electricity. b) When we had
gone to the beach we started talking about the sea/ocean water
being salty and how salt is extracted from the sea water. Kids
brought some sea water back home and placed it in sunlight in a
shallow tray. In 2-3 days the water evaporated and they
collected the salt crystals. The satisfaction in self discovery
is incomparable. Without any prompting from me kids also
experimented if saltwater freezes faster or tap water.
Looking at their interest, pretty soon me and my friend got
together and started doing planned experiments with our children
in a group setting. Kids enjoyed them and looked forward to the
experiment days. Volcanoes and slimes were a lot of fun. When we
did an experiment on coloring daisies, (white daisies if placed
in colored water, pick up that color. In a few hours their
petals start showing the color in the water) it did not end
there. Pretty soon more flowers got experimented on and then
came the question "Why some flowers pick up colors faster than
the others?" One day while we were weeding in the garden we had
an amusing finding. There were lots of Lady Bugs on one
particular type of weed. That led us to the information on how
and why certain bugs favor certain plants or animals. Similarly
different kinds of rocks found in the garden piqued kids
interest and we ended up doing a project on rocks.
I was happy to see that I had achieved what I was aiming for: 1)
Questioning of observed events leading to finding information.
2) Promotion of independent thinking and reasoning process in
the versatile young minds.
This first step "Science is fun" can be followed by the next
more exciting step, where kids learn that "Science is also an
adventure and challenge." It often requires some detective work
and it requires learning of a methodical step by step approach
to solve problems. This approach is called "The scientific
method." The steps in a scientific method can be roughly
outlined as follows. 1) If you have to solve a problem start by
collecting data. Read books, talk to people, and make
observations. 2) Brainstorm- Spend time looking over and
understanding the information collected. Have discussions if you
are working in a team. 3) Make predictions. 4) Design and carry
out experiments. 5) Analyze your results and derive conclusions.
It is a lot more fun to do these activities in a group or as a
team. Parents or friends can be very good companions. As kids
grow up participation in "science fairs" can also bring a good
learning experience. So parents get involved with your kids
science activities and share with them the excitement of being a
scientist and an explorer. Kids will know that science can be
fun. Once they get interested they will keep thinking,
investigating and inventing for ever.
Dr.Kanchan Bodas Editor www.springboardmagazine.com