Helping Your Child Learn Science 

Aug 28, 2015 | Publisher: Chris Groner | Category: Science |  

Helping Your Child Learn Science U.S. Department of Education Margaret Spellings Secretary First published in September 1992. Revised in 2004 and 2005. This booklet is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part for educational purposes is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Communications and Outreach, Helping Your Child Learn Science, Washington, D.C., 2005. To order copies of this publication in English or Spanish, write to: ED Pubs Education Publications Center U.S. Department of Education P.O. Box 1398 Jessup, MD 20794-1398; or fax your request to: (301) 470-1244; or e-mail your request to: edpubs@inet.ed.gov. or call in your request toll-free: 1-877-433-7827 (1-877-4-ED-PUBS). If 877 is not yet available in your area, call 1-800-872-5327 (1-800-USA-LEARN). Those who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a teletypewriter (TTY), should call 1-800-437-0833. or order online at: www.edpubs.org/webstore/Content/search.asp This publication is also available on the Departments Web site at: www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/hyc.html On request, this publication is available in alternate formats, such as Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette. For more information, please contact the Departments Alternate Format Center at (202) 260-9895 or (202) 205-0818. Childrens books and magazines are mentioned in this booklet as examples and are only a few of many appropriate childrens books and periodicals. Other materials mentioned are provided as resources and examples for the readers convenience. Listing of materials and resources in this book should not be construed or interpreted as an endorsement by the Department of any private organization or business listed herein. Helping Your Child Learn Science with activities for children in preschool through grade 5 U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach Helping Your Child Learn Science Helping Your Child Learn Science Contents Foreword Why is the sky blue? Why do things fall to the ground? How do seeds grow? What makes the sound and music? Where do mountains come from? Young children ask their parents hundreds of questions like these. In search of answers, we use science to both enlighten and delight. Being scientific involves being curious, observing, asking how things happen and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need help understanding how to make sense of what they see and to relate their observations to their existing ideas and understandings. This is why parental involvement is so important in childrens science education. When we encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, offer explanations and explore in a safe environment, we lend them the kind of support that they need to become successful science students and scientific thinkers. As a parent, you dont have to be a scientist or have a college degree to help your child learn science. Whats far more important than being able to give a technical explanation of how a telescope works is your willingness to nurture your childs natural curiosity by taking the time to observe and learn together. Science happens all around us every day, and you have endless opportunities to invite your child into the wonders of science. Without expensive chemistry sets, equipment or kits, a child can be introduced easily to the natural world and encouraged to observe what goes on in that world. When you least expect it, a moment for learning will occur: A bit of ice cream drops on the sidewalk and ants appear; some cups float and some sink when youre washing dishes; static electricity makes your hair stand on end when you put on a sweater. Through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, President George W. Bush has made clear his commitment to the goals of raising standards of achievement for all children and of providing all children with highly qualified teachers and with instruction that is based on scientific research. Helping Your Child Learn Science is part of the presidents efforts to provide parents with the latest research and practical information designed to support childrens learning at home, at school and in the community. It reflects the importance of inquiry processes and content in science achievement as described in the National Science Education Standards, released in 1996 by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. This booklet includes a range of activities for families with children from preschool age through grade 5. The activities use materials found in your home and make learning experiences out of everyday routines. The activities are designed for you to have fun with your child while developing and reinforcing science skills. We hope you and your child will enjoy the activities suggested in this booklet and develop many more of your own. iii ii Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 The Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Developing Your Childs Scientific Understanding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Science in the Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 A Science Walk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Breaking the Tension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Bubbles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Bugs! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Float or Sink? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Slime Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Celery Stalks at Midnight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Icky Sticky Stuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Splish Splash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 Hair-Raising Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 Plants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Crystals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Let Em Make Cake! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Science in the Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Zoos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Museums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Planetariums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Aquariums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Farms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Science at Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 1 Community Science Groups and Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Other Community Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Working With Teachers and Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Federal Sources of Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Publications for Parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Books for Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Magazines for Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Science Toys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 Science on TV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 Science on the Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Web Sites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 Science Camps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66 Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 Helping Your Child Learn Science As a parent, you are preparing your child for a world vastly different from the one in which you grew up. Our increasingly technological society will need citizens who have received far more advanced instruction in science and technology than most of us received when we were in school. Even children who dont want to become physicists, chemists, engineers or computer technicians will need some knowledge of science and technology just to conduct their everyday lives. Every citizen needs to be scientifically literate in order to make informed decisions about health, safety and citizenship. Our children need our help and guidance to prepare for the world that awaits them. Scientific knowledge is cumulative: To learn new things, you must build on what you already know. So, its important that your child start learning early"and at home. A good way for you to begin the learning process is by sharing your own interest in science. How you view and talk about science can influence your childs attitudes toward science"and how she1 approaches learning science. Its easy to undermine a childs interest and attitudes by saying things such as, I was lousy in science, and Ive done OK, or I always hated science when I was in school. Its boring. Although you cant make your child like science, you can encourage her to do so, and you can help her to appreciate its value both in her everyday life and in preparing for her future. In everyday interactions with your child, you can do many things"and do them without lecturing or applying pressure"to help her learn science. Here are a few ideas: See how long it takes for a dandelion or a rose to burst into full bloom. Watch the moon as it appears to change shape over the course of a month and record the changes. Look for constellations in the night sky. Bake a cake. 1 Introduction Helping Your Child Learn Science iv Quality education is a cornerstone of Americas future and my administration, and the knowledge-based workplace of the 21st century requires that our students excel at the highest levels in math and science. "President George W. Bush 1. Please note: In this booklet, we refer to a child as she in some places and he in others. We do this to make the booklet easier to read. Please understand, however, that every point that we make is the same for boys and girls. Solve the problem of a drooping plant. Figure out how the spin cycle of the washing machine gets the water out of the clothes. Take apart an old clock or mechanical toy"you dont need to put it back together! Watch icicles melt. Observe pigeons, squirrels, butterflies, ants or spider webs. Go for a walk and talk about how the dogs (or birds or cats) that you see are alike and different. Discover what materials the buildings in your community are made of. Wood? Concrete? Adobe? Brick? Granite? Sandstone? Steel? Glass? Talk about the reasons for using these materials. Learning to observe carefully is an important step leading to scientific explanations. Experiencing the world with your child and exchanging information with him about what you see are important, too. Finally, encourage your child to ask questions. If you cant answer all of her questions, thats all right" no one has all the answers, not even scientists. For example, point out that theres no known cure for a cold, but that we do know how diseases are passed from person to person"through germs. Some of the best answers you can give are, What do you think? and Lets find out together. Together, you and your child can propose possible answers, test them out and check them by using reference books, the Internet, or by asking someone who is likely to know the correct answers. Helping Your Child Learn Science 2 Helping Your Child Learn Science How to Use This Booklet This booklet makes available to you information that you can use to help your child to learn science. It includes: Some basic information about science; Activities for you and your child to do, both in the home and the community; Practical suggestions for how to work with teachers and schools to help your child succeed in science; and A list of science-related resources, including federal sources of information, publications for parents, science-related childrens magazines and books, and information about science camps. 3 The Basics Helping Your Child Learn Science Even older children can come up with unique scientific explanations, as in the following examples provided by middle-school students: Fossils are bones that animals are through wearing. Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun, but Ive never been able to make out the numbers. Gravity is stronger on the earth than on the moon because here on earth we have a bigger mess. A blizzard is when it snows sideways. Asking Questions As mentioned earlier, its important to encourage your child to ask questions. Its also important to ask your child questions that will get him talking about his ideas and to listen carefully to his answers. Keep in mind that childrens experiences help them form their ideas"ideas that may, or may not, match current scientific interpretations. Help your child to look at things in new ways. For instance, in regard to the blizzard, you could ask, Have you ever seen it snow sideways? or What do you think causes it to snow sideways sometimes? Such conversation can be an important form of inquiry or learning. Encourage your child by letting him know that its OK to make mistakes or admit he doesnt know something. Rather than saying, No, thats wrong, when he gives an incorrect explanation, give him accurate information or help him to find it. Going back to the blizzard, you could ask your child, How could you check your definition? How does the dictionarys definition of blizzard fit with what you said about snow moving sideways? 5 What Is Science? Science is not just a collection of facts. Of course, facts are an important part of science: Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 degrees Celsius), and the earth moves around the sun. But science is much, much more. Science involves: Observing whats happening; Classifying or organizing information; Predicting what will happen; Testing predictions under controlled conditions to see if they are correct; and Drawing conclusions. Science involves trial and error"trying, failing and trying again. Science doesnt provide all the answers. It requires us to be skeptical so that our scientific conclusions can be modified or changed altogether as we make new discoveries. Children Have Their Own Scientific Concepts Very young children can come up with many interesting explanations to make sense of the world around them. When asked about the shape of the earth, for example, some will explain that the earth has to be flat because, if it were round like a ball, people and things would fall off it. Presented with a globe and told that this is the true shape of the earth, these children may adapt their explanation by saying that the earth is hollow and that people live on flat ground inside it. Helping Your Child Learn Science 4 Helping Your Child Learn Science Fortunately, children whose interests vary greatly can find plenty of science activities that are fun. If your son loves to cook, let him observe how tea changes color when lemon is added or how vinegar curdles milk. Knowing your child is the best way to find suitable activities for him. Here are some tips: Encourage activities that are neither too hard nor too easy for your child. If in doubt, err on the easy side, because something too difficult may give him the idea that science itself is too hard. Adults often assume that children need spectacular demonstrations to learn science, but this isnt true. Consider your childs personality and social habits. Some projects are best done alone, others in a group; some require help, others require little or no adult supervision. Solitary activities may bore some children, while group projects may not appeal to others. Select activities that are appropriate for where you live. Clearly, a brightly lighted city isnt the best place for stargazing. Allow your child to help select the activities. If you dont know whether she would rather collect shells or plant daffodils, ask her. When she picks something she wants to do, shell learn more and have a better time doing it. 7 Knowing that you are willing to listen will help your child to gain confidence in his own thinking and encourage his interest in science. And listening to what he says will help him to figure out what he knows and how he knows it. Hands-On Works Well Investigating and experimenting are great ways for children to learn science and increase their understanding of scientific ideas. Hands-on science can also help children think critically and gain confidence in their own ability to solve problems. Young children especially are engaged by things they can touch, manipulate and change; and by situations that allow them to figure out what happens"in short, events and puzzles that they can investigate, which is at the very heart of scientific study. While hands-on science works well, it can also be messy and time- consuming. So, before you get started, see what is involved in an activity"including how long it will take. Less Is More Its tempting to try to teach children just a little about many different subjects. Although children cant possibly learn everything about science, they do need and will want to learn many facts. The best way to help them learn to think scientifically is to introduce them to just a few topics in depth. Finding the Right Activity for Your Child Different children have different interests and will respond differently to science activities. A sand and rock collection that was a big hit with an 8-year-old daughter may not be a big hit with a 6-year-old son. Helping Your Child Learn Science 6 Developing Your Childs Scientific Understanding Helping Your Child Learn Science 2. Evidence, Models and Explanations Scientists test the explanations they come up with, and the results of their tests are evidence on which to base their explanations. Sometimes they call their explanations theories or models or hypotheses. Children can test their theories about the world too: Is it the baking soda that makes my pancakes thick? Can I make thicker pancakes with more soda? 3. Change, Constancy and Measurement The natural world changes continually. Some objects change rapidly and some at a rate too slow for us to observe. You can encourage your child to look for changes by asking him to observe and talk about: What happens to breakfast cereal when we pour milk on it? What happens over time when a plant isnt watered or exposed to proper sunlight? What changes can be reversed? Once water is turned into ice cubes, can it be turned back into water? Yes. But if an apple is cut into slices, can the slices be changed back into the whole apple? Children can observe change more carefully through measurement. Keeping a growth chart or making a graph of the temperature each day will give your child practice looking for differences and measuring them"and help him to understand how hell need to use math skills in learning science. 4. Evolution and Equilibrium Its hard for children to understand evolution (how things change over time) and equilibrium (how things attain a steady and balanced state of being). During these early years, you can, however, talk about how things 9 Unifying Concepts and Processes Children can be introduced gradually to basic scientific concepts that will provide a framework for understanding and connecting many scientific facts and observations. In this booklet, we will focus on five concepts and processes taken from the National Science Education Standards, released in 1996 by the National Resource Council of the National Academy of Sciences.2 You can easily introduce your child to the following five concepts through the activities in this booklet and many other simple science-related activities that you and your child can do at home or in the community. 1. Systems, Order and Organization The natural world is so large and complicated that scientists break it down into smaller parts in order to study it in depth. These smaller units are called systems. Scientists look for patterns through which they can classify"or organize"things into systems. For instance, animals that have fur or hair are classified as mammals. When you encourage your child to gather and organize objects according to their size or color"for example, leaves or insects"you are helping prepare her to think in terms of systems. Furthermore, scientists believe that nature is understandable and predictable"that there is an order to it. For instance, low barometric pressure is often followed by storms. Challenging your child to make reasonable predictions such as this will further prepare her to look at the world in a scientific way. Helping Your Child Learn Science 8 2. The standards outline what students need to know, understand and be able to do in order to be scientifically literate at different grade levels. For more information, visit this Web site: www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/html/. Activities Helping Your Child Learn Science Children learn by doing, by trying new ideas and challenging old ones. This doesnt just happen in school. You can help your child learn by providing him with safe, interesting learning experiences in a supportive atmosphere. The activities that follow are designed for you to use with your child at home and in the community. The activities are intended to show your child that science plays a part in many everyday activities and that it is used in many places and environments. They also show that learning science doesnt require expensive equipment and complicated experiments. For each activity, youll see a grade span"from preschool through grade 5"that suggests when children should be ready to try it. Of course, children dont always learn"or become interested in"the same things at the same time. And they dont suddenly stop enjoying one thing and start enjoying another just because they are a little older. Youre the best judge of which activity your child is ready to try. For example, you may find that an activity listed for children in grades 1 or 2 works well with your preschooler. On the other hand, you might discover that the same activity may not interest your child until he is in grade 3 or 4. Feel free to make changes in an activity"shorten or lengthen it"to suit your childs interests and attention span. Safety First Read through each activity before you try it with your child. In particular, look for this sign: It highlights any activity that requires adult supervision, such as those that involve heat, chemicals or sharp instruments. 11 change over time and point them out to your child. For instance, show your child a series of photos of himself from birth to the present and talk about the many ways hes changed. And, you can talk about balance and the work it often takes to achieve it: Learning to ride a bicycle or walk with a book on his head are good examples. 5. Form and Function One of the simplest themes in science is all around: The shape of a natural thing is almost always related to its function. Begin with man-made objects. Can your child guess the use of a thimble, a corkscrew, a phonograph record? When you are looking at animals, ask him questions such as: What might those plates do on the stegosauross back? What sort of habitat would a web-footed platypus like? His best guess will almost always be correct. Scientific Integrity Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov describes science as a way of thinking.3 It is a way to look at the world that involves special principles of conduct, and the early years of elementary school are a good time to start teaching children scientific ethics. We should help them understand how important it is to: Observe carefully; Record accurately; Try to look for patterns in an objective, unbiased way; Share their observations (or results) honestly and in a way that allows others to test what theyve said; Realize that they might make mistakes; Respect curiosity; and Stay open to criticism and change. Helping Your Child Learn Science 10 3. Asimov, 5 Helping Your Child Learn Science If your child cannot write yet, she can tell you what to write for her or draw pictures of what she sees. In addition, you may want to use a simple camera to help record observations. As a parent, you can help your child want to learn in a way no one else can. That desire to learn is a key to your childs success. And, of course, enjoyment is an important motivator for learning. As you choose activities to use with your child, remember that helping him to learn doesnt mean that you cant laugh or that you have to be serious. In fact, you can teach your child a lot through play. We hope that you and your child enjoy these activities and that they inspire you to think of additional activities of your own. Science in the Home Your home is a great place for you to begin to explore science with your child. Incorporating science activities and language into familiar routines will show your child how science works in his everyday life and provide him with a safe environment in which to explore and experiment. A Science Walk Preschool"Kindergarten Even a walk around the yard can provide many opportunities to introduce children to scientific concepts and processes by helping them to gain the scientific habit of observing whats around them. What You Need A magnifying glass Science journal 13 Also make sure that your child understands any safety precautions that may be necessary for these"or any"science activities. In particular, you should: Teach your child not to taste anything without your supervision; Insist that he wear goggles whenever something could splash, burn, or shatter and endanger his eyes; Teach him to follow warnings on manufacturers labels and instructions for toys and science kits; Keep toxic or other dangerous substances out of the reach of your child; Teach him what he can do to avoid accidents; and Teach him what to do if an accident occurs. In a box near the end of each activity are a few facts and explanations for reinforcement and further teaching. But exploring, questioning and having a good time are more important than memorizing facts. Recording Results Keeping records is an important part of science. It helps us remember what did (and didnt) work. Before starting the activities, give your child a notebook" a science journal"in which she can record her observations. Remember that seeing isnt the only way to observe. Sometimes we use other senses: We hear, feel, smell or taste some things (of course, your child should be careful about what she tastes" and she shouldnt taste anything without your permission). Helping Your Child Learn Science 12 Helping Your Child Learn Science Give your child two different kinds of rocks or flowers and ask her to tell you how they are alike and different. Make sure she records her observations, reactions, findings and opinions in her science journal. Drawing pictures and taking photos are good ways to record observations, and you can help her to write appropriate captions. Encourage her to share her journal with others and to talk about her experiences. Breaking the Tension Preschool"Kindergarten These simple activities demonstrate surface tension. What You Need Index card Safety scissors Sink filled with water Glass half filled with water Liquid dishwashing detergent Ground pepper Toothpicks 15 What to Do Take a walk outside with your child"around the yard, to the end of the block, in the park"anywhere thats convenient. Invite her to bring along her science journal and show her how to use a magnifying glass. As you walk, stop and"depending on the season"ask her to use the lens to examine things such as the following: "dirt "leaves (from the same tree, one on the ground and one on the tree) "a flower "snowflakes "icicles "bugs "a mud puddle "a rock Ask her to talk about what she observes. Ask, for example: "Whats on each side of this leaf? "How is this leaf on the ground different from the one on the tree? "Are all the petals on this flower the same size and color? "Are these snowflakes exactly alike? How are they different? "How many legs does this bug have? "How many colors can you see in this mud puddle? Other questions you might ask as she observes and examines things along the way include the following: "Is it smooth or rough? "Is it hard or soft? "Is it dry or wet? "Is it alive? How do you know? "What shape is it? Helping Your Child Learn Science 14 Observing closely is an important part of science, and tools such as a magnifying glass help scientists"even young ones"to observe, measure and do things that they otherwise could not do. What You Need 8 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid 1 quart water 1 drinking straw A shallow pan What to Do Mix the dishwashing liquid with the water and pour it into the pan. Give your child a straw and tell him to blow through it as he moves it slowly across the surface of the solution. Ask him to notice the size of the bubbles that he makes. Next, have your child try to make a very big bubble that covers the surface of the pan. Have him do the following: "Dip one end of the straw into the solution. Then hold the straw slightly above the surface. Blow into it very gently. He may have to try several times to make a really big bubble. "When hes made a bubble, have him touch it gently with a wet finger to see what happens. "Have him make another big bubble, then touch it with a dry finger. What happens? Ask him to look closely at the bubbles he makes. How many colors does he see? Do the colors change? What to Do From an index card, cut out a boat shape, like the one on this page. Make the boat about 2-1/2 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide. Have your child place the boat gently on the water in the sink. Have him pour a little detergent at the notch end of the boat. Ask him to describe what happens. (Note: To repeat this experiment, youll need to use fresh water to make the boat move.) Next, sprinkle a little ground pepper on the water in the glass. Give your child a toothpick and tell him to dip it in the middle of the pepper. Ask him what happens. Then tell him to put a drop of the detergent on another toothpick and dip it into the pepper. Now what happens? Bubbles Preschool"Kindergarten Children can learn more about surface tension and about change just by blowing bubbles! Helping Your Child Learn Science 16 Bubbles are bits of air or gas trapped inside a liquid ball. The surface of a bubble is very thin. Bubbles are particularly fragile when a dry object touches them. Thats because soap film tends to stick to the object, which puts a strain on the bubble. Surface tension results when the hydrogen in water molecules stick to one another as well as to the water below them. This creates a strong but flexible film on the waters surface. The detergent disrupts the molecules and breaks the tension, making the boat go forward and the pepper move to the sides of the glass. Helping Your Child Learn Science 17 Helping Your Child Learn Science Find out about spiders: "Why do spiders spin webs? "What are webs made of? "How many pairs of legs do they have? Help your child to think of other ways that she might classify the bugs" for example, by color or by size or by whether they have wings or antennae. Float or Sink? Kindergarten"Grade 1 Learning to make and test predictions is a good first step toward making and testing hypotheses. What You Need 1 block of solid wood 1 plastic bottle cap 2 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil 1 piece of modeling clay Sink filled with water 19 Bugs! Kindergarten"Grade 1 Children can improve their understanding of the natural world and their classification skills by observing bugs. What You Need Books about insects and spiders"preferably with photographs (for titles, see the list of childrens books in the Resources section at the end of this booklet) A magnifying glass What to Do With your child, search your home and neighborhood for bugs. Look for bugs: "around your front door "in cracks in the sidewalk "in gardens "at picnic areas "on lights " in corners of rooms Using the guides, help your child to identify each type of bug that you find, such as ants, spiders, beetles, crickets, bees, flies, butterflies, mosquitoes, moths, wasps or ladybugs. If you find ants, point out that ants work together as a community. Have her observe, for example, what an ant does when it finds a bit of food. Explain that when an ant finds food, it doesnt eat it on the spot. It runs back to the hill to tell the other ants. As it runs, it leaves a trail that the other ants can smell. These ants can then find the food by smelling their way along the trail. Helping Your Child Learn Science 18 Bugs do what they do to survive. Theyre constantly looking for food. Bugs can be both helpful and harmful. Termites, for example, have a bad reputation because they destroy houses by eating the wood. But termites have a good side, too. In a forest, they break down dead trees, which keeps the forest floor from becoming too cluttered. Helping Your Child Learn Science Slime Time Grades 1"2 When one object moves against another, the result is friction. What You Need Mixing bowl 4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin Hot water Square baking pan Vegetable oil Liquid dishwashing detergent 2 small bowls Stopwatch or a watch with a second hand Measuring cup Dont let your child eat the gelatin cubes after theyve been handled or after theyre covered with lubricant. What to Do In a mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin in two cups of hot tap water. Coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil. Pour the gelatin mixture into the pan and put it in the refrigerator until firm. Cut the gelatin into cubes about 1 inch x 1 inch. You should have about 64 cubes. Place 15 cubes into one bowl. Place the second bowl about 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) away from the cube bowl. 21 What to Do Tell your child to hold the wood block in one hand and the plastic cap in the other hand. Ask him to answer the following questions: "Which one feels heavier? "Do you think the wooden block will float or sink? "Will the plastic cap float or sink? Have your child test his predictions by carefully placing the block of wood and the cap on the water. What happens? Next, have him put both under the water. What happens now? Give him a piece of aluminum foil and tell him to squeeze it tightly into a solid ball then drop it in the water. Does it float or sink? Give him another piece of foil. Help him to shape it into a little boat, then have him carefully place it on top of the water. Does the foil float now? Help him to try the same experiment with the clay. Have him make a ball and drop it in the water. What happens? Then have him shape the clay into a boat and put it on the water. Does it float now? Helping Your Child Learn Science 20 The clay and foil balls sink because they are squeezed into small shapes and only a small amount of water is trying to hold up the weight. When the clay or foil is spread out, it floats because the weight is supported by a lot more water. Helping Your Child Learn Science Celery Stalks at Midnight Grades 1"2 Capillary action is the name for the process that takes place when a paper towel soaks up a spilled liquid or when a plant transfers water from its roots to its leaves. What You Need 4 same-size stalks of fresh celery with leaves 4 cups of the same size Knife Vegetable peeler Red and blue food coloring Measuring cup Paper towels Ruler Old newspapers Water What to Do Lay the four stalks of celery in a row on a cutting board or counter so that the place where the stalks and the leaves meet matches. Cut all four stalks of celery 4 inches (about 10 centimeters) below where the stalks and leaves meet. Use 10 drops of red and 10 drops of blue food coloring for each 1/2 cup of water to make purple water. Pour the colored water in equal parts into the four cups. Have your child put one stalk each in the cups of purple water. 23 Place the watch so that your child can see it. Tell her that when you say go, you want her to start picking up the gelatin cubes one at a time with her thumb and index finger (caution her not to squeeze them!). Tell her to see how many cubes she can transfer to the other bowl in 15 seconds. Tell your child to put all the cubes back in the first bowl. Pour 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid over the cubes. Gently mix the detergent and the cubes so that the cubes are well-coated. Have her use the same method as before to transfer as many cubes as possible in 15 seconds. Throw away the cubes and detergent and wash and dry both bowls. Put 15 new cubes into one bowl and pour 1/4 cup water over the cubes, again making sure the cubes are thoroughly coated. Tell your child to see how many cubes she can transfer in 15 seconds. Again, throw away the cubes and water. Put 15 new cubes into one bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over the cubes. Make sure they are well coated. Have her see how many cubes she can transfer in 15 seconds. Ask your child to answer the following questions: "With which liquid was she able to transfer the most cubes? "With which liquid was she able to transfer the fewest cubes? "Which liquid was the best lubricant (the slipperiest)? Which was the worst? Helping Your Child Learn Science 22 Cars, trucks, airplanes and machines all have parts that rub against one another. These parts would heat up, wear down and stop working if we didnt have lubricants. Lubricants reduce the amount of friction between two surfaces that move against each other. Helping Your Child Learn Science Icky Sticky Stuff Grades 2"3 Adhesives are used to stick things together. Many adhesives occur in nature and have important uses for plants and animals. What You Need Flour Measuring cup Egg white Food coloring 4 small bowls 4 plastic spoons Aluminum foil Cotton balls Toothpicks Small pieces of cloth Glitter Safety scissors Colored yarn or ribbon Colored paper What to Do Help your child to make a poster or collage using adhesives by doing the following: "Make three bowls of flour-and-water paste. In each bowl, add 1/4 cup water to 1/2 cup flour and mix until smooth. Add a different-colored food coloring to each of the three bowls and mix. Use the pastes to make colored shapes on a poster board or heavy paper. 25 Label four sheets of paper towels: 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, and 8 hours. (You may want to put newspapers under the towels.) Every two hours, have him remove one of the stalks and put it on the correct towel. Each time he removes a stalk from the water, help him to carefully peel the rounded part with a vegetable peeler to see how far up the stalk the purple water has traveled. Help your child to measure the distance the purple water has traveled for each stalk and record the information in his science journal. Talk with him about what he has observed. Work with your child to make a list of other objects around the house or in nature that illustrate capillary action. Have him look for paper towels, sponges, old sweat socks, brown paper bags and flowers. Helping Your Child Learn Science 24 Capillary action happens when water molecules are more attracted to the surface they travel along than to each other. In paper towels, the molecules move along tiny fibers. In plants, they move through narrow tubes that are actually called capillaries. Plants couldnt survive without capillaries because they use the water to make their food. Helping Your Child Learn Science Splish Splash Grades 2"3 This activity introduces children to the scientific concepts of volume and measurement. What You Need Measuring spoons and cups of different sizes Milk containers of different sizes"e.g., pint, quart, half-gallon and gallon (or 1/2 liter, 1 liter, 2 liter and 4 liter) Funnel 2 containers that hold the same amount but have different shapes" e.g., one tall and thin, one short and squat (try a 1-quart pitcher and the same-sized storage bowl) 1 sink filled with water What to Do Have your child fill a quart-sized container with water. Then help him to use the funnel to pour the water into a gallon-sized container. Ask him to observe how many small containers it takes to fill the larger one. Continue by having him use the different measuring devices to answer question such as the following: "How many tablespoons does it take to make half a cup? "How many cups does it take to make a quart? "How many pints make a gallon? 27 "Crack open an egg and separate the white into a bowl. Use the white as a clear glue to attach aluminum foil, cotton balls, toothpicks, cloth, glitter, ribbon, yarn and colored paper"whatever works to create a collage. Help your child to search your home to track down everything that she can that is sticky. See how many of the following she can find: "Tape "Peanut butter "Postage stamps "Envelopes "Honey "A decal on a t-shirt "Spackle "An adhesive bandage Ask your child to make a list of things in nature"animals, plants and so forth"that have adhesive properties or are sticky. For example: "Spiders that use sticky threads to create webs to catch their food "Tree sap "Barnacles that stick to boats, ships and rocks Next, ask her to think of adhesives that are used in hospitals? in offices? in auto repair shops? Helping Your Child Learn Science 26 What makes glue, paste or tape stick to things? Wood, paper and many other materials have tiny cracks and holes in them. When we glue things together, sometimes the glue seeps into the tiny openings and hardens, making the materials stick together. Other times, the molecules on the surface of an object get tangled up with the glue molecules, making the objects stick together. All materials contain millions of tiny particles, called protons and electrons, that have electric charges. Protons have positive charges, and electrons negative ones. Usually, they balance each other, but sometimes when two surfaces rub together, some of the electrons rub off one surface onto the other, and we can have static electricity. Materials with like charges (all positive or all negative) move away from each other; those with opposite charges attract each other. Helping Your Child Learn Science What to Do Have your child tie a string to each inflated balloon. Then tell her to rub a balloon on her hair for about 15 seconds"help her to rub around the whole balloon. Have her take the balloon away and see what happens to her hair! Then have her observe what happens when she brings the balloon back close to her hair. Next, stand a few feet away from and facing your child. Have her rub the balloon on her hair again as you do the same with the other balloon. Tell her to hold the string to her balloon, letting it hang freely but without letting it touch anything. (You do the same with your balloon.) Slowly move the two balloons toward each other, but dont let them touch. Have your child tell you whats happening: Do the balloons push away from each other, or do they pull toward each other? Have her place her hand between the two hanging balloons. What happens? Give your child a sock to place over one hand. Tell her to rub her balloon with the sock, then let the balloon hang freely. Have her move her sock-covered hand near the balloon. What happens? Have her try rubbing both balloons with the sock and then letting them hang near each other. What happens now? 29 Set the short squat container next to the tall thin one. Ask your child to predict whether one container will hold more water than the other. Let him fill the short squat container with a given amount of water"for example, four cups if youre using quart containers. Then have him pour this water into the tall thin container. Was his prediction correct? Ask him why he thinks both containers held the same amount. Hair-Raising Results Grades 3 and up Here are some great hands-on ways to learn about static electricity. What You Need A cool dry day 2 round balloons (inflated and tied) 2 20-inch pieces of string Wool or acrylic sock Mirror Helping Your Child Learn Science 28 Water and other liquids take the shape of whatever container theyre in. Containers of certain sizes have names"cup, pint, quart, liter or gallon, for example. This activity provides an introduction to volume and measurement. Photosynthesis means to put together using light. Plants use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide from the air and water into food. When the plant gets enough food, it produces a simple sugar, which it uses immediately or stores in a converted form of starch. We dont know exactly how this happens. But we do know that chlorophyll, the green substance in plants, helps it to occur. Helping Your Child Learn Science Next, have your child observe what happens when a plant (or part of a plant) doesnt get any light. Help him to do the following: "Cut out three pieces of paper, each about 2 inches x 2 inches in size. "Clip the pieces to different leaves of a plant, preferably one that has large leaves. "Leave one piece of paper on a leaf for one day, a second for two days and a third for a week. Ask your child to record how long it takes for the plant to react and how long it

Why is the sky blue?Why do things fall to the ground?How do seeds grow?What makes the sound and music?Where do mountains come from? 

Young children ask their parents hundreds of questions like these. In search of answers, we use scienceto both enlighten and delight. Being “scientific” involves being curious, observing, asking how thingshappen and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need helpunderstanding how to make sense of what they see and to relate their observations to their existingideas and understandings. This is why parental involvement is so important in children’s scienceeducation. When we encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, offer explanations andexplore in a safe environment, we lend them the kind of support that they need to become successfulscience students and scientific thinkers.

About Chris Groner

Tampa native. Digital Marketing Coordinator @Accusoft.. Married my best friend. Lover of dogs.

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