By: Al Stewart
Many years ago there was a commercial on television featuring a feisty lady who famously asked “Where’s the beef?” It was a commercial about the relative amount of beef on various brands of hamburgers. Well, here is a question for you: Where’s the science? The answer is: Science is everywhere.
As we work with young children, supporting the development of the whole child, we must remember that science is just as important for them as it is for school-aged children. As many parents learn quickly, young children learn through their senses, and that is a major introduction to becoming a scientist at an early age.
Science in Your Home - Take a field trip around your house. In each room, ask your child simple questions about familiar household items:
• How does the lamp work? And what is the source of its energy (The answer is electricity.)
• What other items have electricity as their source of energy?
Identify as many items as your child can, in several rooms of your home. Now have the child identify the source of energy for the following items – a flashlight, a cell phone, a candle, a bicycle (tricycle), a hammer, and a rake. Notice that the source of energy for the last 3 items is a person! This could lead to a discussion of what are the sources of energy for people. This discussion will naturally address healthy food choices, rest, and sleep which play an important role in our health. It could also include how our bodies work and how we fuel our bodies.
Science Outside - Outdoor field trips may be experienced all year long and each one may have different objectives. Nature field trips give children the opportunity to practice being good observers. It also allows the adults and children to make predictions about what they will see in their environment. Before you go, have a discussion about what you predict you will see on the walk. Make a list of 5 or 6 items. For example, during the fall, we might predict that we will see birds, trees, clouds, brown leaves, caterpillars, and squirrels. Maybe your child could draw pictures to correspond with each item. Predict which one you will see the most of. Now take your walk. Show the child how to make a tally mark beside each picture when you see one. The idea is to show children how to make a prediction, collect data, and determine if the prediction was correct, or not. If not, then why? What did the data show us?
These are just a few ideas to show children that science is everywhere they go, and that learning about their bodies, the environment, collecting data, and working together can be fun and enjoyable.
Can you think of how children may become scientists by using typical household items? I believe you can. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
About the Author: Al Stewart has work in the early childhood field for 42 plus years including the public school sector in Texas for 34 years as a teacher, early childhood special/general education specialist and consultant as well as Head Start. After he retired, he started his own consulting business, A. Stewart Consulting, and continued his passion for teaching by conducting training sessions for teachers in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade and administration throughout the country.