Are you interested in action, adventure, mystery, intrigue and discovery? Well, science contains all these elements and many more! I can see you shaking your head in denial. Yes, I am using those adjectives in the same breath as the word science.
Without God’s grace I wouldn’t be writing this. I disliked science as a student, teacher and even homeschool parent! I had purchased various books for our first year of homeschooling, yet my children were having difficulty sitting and listening to me read. The enthusiasm with science library books and experiment guides far outweighed the accompanying sigh at the mention of the words, “Science time!”
I also noticed my children couldn’t wait until a rainstorm ended. Living in an area known as the Cypress Slough yields a bounty of wildlife. They asked so many questions, such as, “Mom, what do frogs eat?” or “Mom, how can you tell if it’s a poisonous snake? Is it ‘Red on black, friend of Jack,’ or ‘Red on yellow, kill a fellow’?” Yikes! It’s time to get out the books.
I believe science is the study of the wonderful world God has given us. You can learn so much with so little. You don’t need expensive lab equipment to begin with. Teaching science is important for many reasons. It utilizes all the senses and encompasses reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, mathematics, history and critical thinking. Science is not cut and dried; it requires research and hands-on activities. Oftentimes we spend money on expensive critical thinking programs and workbooks. Science also naturally causes curiosity in children.
Here are my science goals for the year:
Exploring and Discovering:
Many of my children’s favorite school memories begin here. Giving them a box of science-related equipment and an experiment book, or allowing them to take the science kit outdoors, has resulted in great experiences. You may be surprised to discover that science can begin at a very young age. Give your children opportunities. I gave my then-3-year-old son bubbles when he took a bath. He soon learned that bubbles only form when he blew gently. Then he found the bubbles could be blown again without dipping the wand into the jar by catching another bubble and gently blowing. He learned that bubbles stuck to some surfaces and popped when encountering others. He did not understand the physics of a bubble, but this was the beginning of learning science! Slowly you can add some structure to your child’s experiences, as they begin to explore and discover. The key here is to expose them to many opportunities. My book Teaching Science and Having Fun has information about science supplies found around the home and on a shoestring budget!
Begin with the scientific method, which is observation, collecting and classifying, prediction and finding answers, proving a conclusion, evaluating and interpreting findings, and discussing results. The scientific method is an organized way to approach studying science.
The goal is for them to be able to apply what they have learned in new situations. This can be as simple as using the principles of heat to boil water, or as complicated as using the study of carbon dioxide production in yeast to make bread. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy textbooks, workbooks, unit studies or winging it — here are some ways to make your science program so exciting that your children will be asking you to do science every day!
1. Go Outdoors
Dig a hole; use a magnifying glass; study trees, shrubs and plants; observe butterflies, birds, airplanes and helicopters; draw pictures; keep a nature album; put on blindfolds and identify sounds; study weather and create various instruments to gauge.
2. Plant a Garden
Soil analysis, seed germination, weather, seasons, calendar, insect control with and without pesticides, composting and fertilizers, and (best of all) fruits of your labor! You could study the body: eating, digestion, health and nutrition.
3. Nature Walks
Explore different ecosystems; collect rocks, leaves and shells; keep a nature book or diary; draw or take pictures.
4. Hands-On Experiments and Activities
Biology, chemistry, physical science, botany, the body, etc.
5. Nature Center or Planetarium
Exhibits, displays on various topics, stargazing and identification.
6. DVD or Computer Games
Videos such as Planet Earth, The Late Great Planet Earth and others (too vast a list to place here), computer software such as bundles that include age-appropriate lessons.
7. Television Shows or the Internet
Discovery Channel; PBS science programs such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Newton’s Apple or Weird Science; Web sites such as www.creationism.org, www.answersingenesis.org, www.icr.org, www.nasa.gov, www.newtonsapple.tv, www.pbs.org/science, www.discovery.com or www.sciencestoreforthestars.com/science-tv-shows.html.
8. Archaeological Dig
Visit a Caloosa Indian Dig, the Peace River fossil float and many more locations right here in Florida.
9. Science-Specific Field Trips
Turtle watching, the Kennedy Space Center, the Hot Air Balloon Festival, scuba demonstrations, etc. (for events near you, contact your local Chamber of Commerce).
Various families working together to pool their resources to conduct animal dissections, messy experiments and other group activities. These ideas are listed in much greater detail at www.MediaAngels.com. So there you have it — some ways to bring excitement and joy to every child’s eyes at the mere mention of the word science. Maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Spark your science with a few of these ideas during the year and watch your child smile.
Written by: Felice Gerwitz, District 11
She has been a home educator since 1986. She has five children, of which two are homeschool graduates. Felice and her then homeschooled daughter Christina penned a series of adventure mystery novels for teens, which were born from Christina’s love of science.