You Don’t Have to be an Engineer to Teach Your Child About Science

You Don’t Have to be an Engineer to Teach Your Child About Science

Last week we talked about how you don’t have to be a mathematician to teach your children about math. Guess what? You don’t have to be an engineer to teach your children about science either!

At the base of most science is the ability to wonder, to ask questions about how things work or about how to do something that has never been done before, or how to do something better/faster/more efficiently. So for young children, learning about science isn’t about learning all the stages in photosynthesis.  It’s more about having a science-minded approach: it’s about exploring and asking questions, and finding answers or making up answers and testing them out.  And being able to model that for and do that with your children can be a whole lot of fun! Here are some tips on encouraging science-mindedness in your children.

  • Encourage your child to be curious. Listen to your child’s questions about the world and how it works. You don’t have to know all the answers but you can let your child that she is asking interesting questions.
  • Show your own curiosity about the world. Notice things and point them out to your child, and ask him questions about them, like “See that snail over there? I wonder if it moves faster than that squishy slug over here?
  • Encourage your child to think about answers to questions. If your child wants to know whether a marble or a rubber ball is going to roll down the hill faster, ask her what she thinks. And why. She doesn’t have to be correct. Just thinking about the possible answers to questions is good practice for approaching science.
  • Do your own hands-on experiments. If you and your child want to find out what will melt faster, ice cream or ice cubes, put some of each out in the sun and time it. Make some guesses (hypotheses) about what you both think will happen before you start and then see if you were correct based on your observations. This is the process of science.
  • Explore science museums and exhibits. Many museums have exhibits specifically designed for younger children. Locally, the Science Factory and the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History are two great local resources. And both belong to the Museums for All program which means that families with an EBT card can attend for $1 per person or $5 for a family.

So the next time your child asks you why his shadow is following him, ask him what he thinks and then come up with some questions to answer and an experiment to find the answers. The whole process can be a whole lot of fun!

Image: © Christinlola | Dreamstime.com

 

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.

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