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#1 of 13 Old 03-18-2009, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i am looking for guidance on supporting a child who is passionate about science. i do not seem to have the natural inclination to create experiments, and scientific inquiry feels foreign to me. i am more of a walk in the woods and look kind of mama. i come up with "wonder if"s but never mind if they stay unanswered!

i feel a need to be better informed, to be more of an on-the-spot resource when dd wants one.

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#2 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 02:18 AM
 
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I don't know, but I'm reading for ideas as well.

Erin caffix.gif , Happy wife of Honey Bearguitar.gif , mom of Curly Miss (11/04), Little Mister (10/06), Princess Abi (3/08), and The Bean (9/09) jumpers.gifadoptionheart-1.gif  <>< oh, and I blog.

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#3 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 02:37 AM
 
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Here's a wonderful older thread:
If you are a "science" family

When you say "i do not seem to have the natural inclination to create experiments," do you mean you don't want to do experiments or just that no ideas come to you? Because there are some wonderful books packed with fun activities. Here are some good resources - Science - but you can find lot of great stuff at the library and book stores and museum gift stores.

And you might want to take a look through my science link page - there are some incredible sites on the Internet! - scroll through the whole page before you start clicking, so you can see where you want to start, because you'll be wandering around in cyberspace for a while once you get going.

I don't know how old your children are, but I got together a science club for my son when he was around 9. I invited three other boys who had some similarity in their enthusiasm for science, and asked each to bring one experiment every week, complete with materials for everyone to participate. The moms just acted as facilitators for driving them around and helping them set up materials during the experiments at science club. We didn't make any attempt to make any of it into lessons! We just let them loose. And they all spent time going through books and planning the experiments, so they actually were learning, even though club time was more social than anything.

Casual science inquiry can come in the form of just pondering aloud about all the mysteries around us - the skies, the growth of plants or animals, the colors, nature, the weather, the way things work, whatever... Just blurt and you'll be on your way.. Lilian
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#4 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 02:41 AM
 
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I just noticed this part:
Quote:
i feel a need to be better informed, to be more of an on-the-spot resource when dd wants one.
I feel that you're a wonderful resource and model if you just say, "Interesting question! I don't know, but let's look it up." Or "I wonder! Let's find out!" And then just take the initiative to do the looking it up part yourself and sharing what you find - whether it's a web page or a passage in a book or whatever. It can help to keep a notepad and pen in the car and in your purse and in the house to write down all those questions that pop up at unexpected times. It can get pretty frustrating to keep forgetting to look things up later, but I've certainly done that a lot!

Lillian
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#5 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post
I just noticed this part:


I feel that you're a wonderful resource and model if you just say, "Interesting question! I don't know, but let's look it up." Or "I wonder! Let's find out!" And then just take the initiative to do the looking it up part yourself and sharing what you find - whether it's a web page or a passage in a book or whatever. ...

Lillian
this is reassuring to hear: that's exactly my approach. in terms of experiments, i find it challenging to get from "i want to know this answer" to "here is a way we can figure it out". the nice thing is, my own lack of knowledge is, i guess, a good model for having to explore and research!

mama to one amazing daughter born 1/2004
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#6 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 01:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kangamitroo View Post
...the nice thing is, my own lack of knowledge is, i guess, a good model for having to explore and research!
I think it may even be an advantage. It's one thing to have a parent who's an expert on something, but quite another to have someone you can explore and learn with, and see how to go about getting information. I think it's empowering. Lillian
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#7 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 02:05 PM
 
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I have a child who is really interested in science. I do happen to be a scientist myself, which helps, but there is a lot she is interested in that I don't know. I agree with everything LilianJ said. Remember, you aren't supposed to be a "teacher" who, like in school, is expected to impart information to the children. I think it's a much more meaningful experience for you to learn and explore along with your child. We also put together a homeschool science club with a couple other families whose kids are science-oriented, and that has been very fun!

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#8 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 02:29 PM
 
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Totally agree that finding the answers when you don't know is a very valuable thing to demonstrate. If your dd is asking Q's when you're out and about, perhaps having a little notebook along to write notes of things you need to look up later would help?
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#9 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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I've had the same question so this thread is very timely.

Lillian, you're an amazing resource. Thanks again.
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#10 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 03:46 PM
 
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Still giggling over the puppet show in Dragonfly's link . I needed some chuckles today - I have a whole lot of stuff I'm trying to get done, and was getting entirely too wound up.

I meant to say earlier that the thing I would avoid is the tradition of making them look things up themselves, which isn't anything that's been suggested here - because that can make their inquisitiveness become associated with a chore. They'll learn soon enough how to run to information sources on their own.

Another idea is to take a look at some books by Bernard Nebel, a retired scientist with an interest in children's education - his love of science and children is obvious. You'd want to read some reviews to see it they're something that fit your purposes, of course, but you can "look inside" or "search inside" them on Amazon
Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
and
Nebel's Elementary Education: Creating a Tapestry of Learning, which also focuses on science.

He does tend to put things more in the form of lessons, which isn't necessarily what everyone might be looking for, but he includes a lot of interesting information and they can be used as reference books as well. He also had a couple of email groups you can join to ask questions related to things in the books. - Lillian
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#11 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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I missed how old your kids are. Mine are 5, 7 and 11 and here are some of the things we do.

A few ideas:
~I have Nebel's book and the best part about it is that he hosts a yahoo group where you can ask your questions. His file section also has an incredible list of science books (fiction and non-fiction)

~ have a weekly science night where you do formal experiements together. You might do a demonstration type experiment and then let them play with the equipment to make their own discoveries. Have some books from the library available to answer some of the questions and guide some more experimentation during the week. Photograph and/or write down your observations in a science book or blog like "real" scientists do if that is important to your kids. You can also write down the science questions that need to be answered here.

~ there are tonnes of science podcasts available. My kids love CBC Quirks and Quarks, and Science Friday but there are some aimed at younger kids too.

~ subscribe to Krampf's experiment yahoo group, science for kids newsletter, Science Explorations for Kids newsletter

~
Yes and Know magazines are excellent for kids.

~ There is the Young Scientist Club which looks like it might be fun. A bit pricey but maybe a good birthday/christmas gift from relatives?

~ check your community for science clubs for kids or other resources. Our community has a Junior Naturalists program, and a Rock club for kids. The local universities often hold open houses for science events.

~ There are some great science dvds - magic school bus, Bill Nye, Blue Planet and Planet Earth, Mythbusters, Nova specials etc. Check out your library.

~ If you are looking for ways to help you learn science so you can pass that one you could look into this program

Have you got a field bag for walks in the woods? We have a small portable microscope like this one, a magnifying glass, some field guides, some collection bags/jars, a notebook and pencils and pencil crayons. Great for grabbing on the go.

Spring is a great time for science - do plant experiments with seedlings, hatch butterflies or praying mantis, bring tadpoles home and watch them change, set up a small pond in an aquarium on the table and see what you can see.

hth
Karen

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#12 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 05:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post
~I have Nebel's book and the best part about it is that he hosts a yahoo group where you can ask your questions. His file section also has an incredible list of science books (fiction and non-fiction)
Okay, that makes two of us who've mentioned it without providing a link, so here goes:
This is the main group, and it doesn't specify science in the title, but I have yet to see anything other than science talk on it:
NebelsElementaryEducation

This is one he set up to focus only on science, but, as I said, I think you'll find that in the other one as well.
K5Science- teaching science K-5 - and I also wouldn't assume there isn't plenty that can be interesting for a lot more than just age K-5. I think he just probably feels that all this should be finished by 6th grade, but even schools aren't that efficient.

Do keep in mind that it isn't at all unschoolish, though. Not that he has a particularly coercive attitude, but just that he has much more traditional and structured idea of how to approach education. He's very approachable on the list for science questions, which is nice too. AND also keep in mind that the lists are very specific in their purpose: a free support service to those using his text!

Lillian

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#13 of 13 Old 03-19-2009, 06:31 PM
 
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Everyone has really wonderful ideas, but I thought I'd throw out what we do if it might be helpful. My boys have very short attention spans, which can be helpful, actually, but my oldest does ask an awful lot of questions.

We go for walks in the woods and practice observing a lot. We dig under rocks and in creeks and in mud and look at bugs and we do a LOT of googling. I also get lots and lots of children's nonfiction books out of the library about anything and everything: experiments, color, light, dinosaurs, evolution, spiders, animal encyclopedias, early history, etc. They seem to be mostly Usborne, Scholastic and Dorling Kindersley books, but they have those on every subject imaginable. That way we just have stuff on hand to discover and browse at our leisure. As homeschoolers, we get books for 6 weeks, which means I can get several bags full and they can peruse casually and reject things they don't care about (fyi - my boys are not reading, but they look at the pictures and pick out "stories" including nonfiction at bedtime).

We have a membership that gets us into the science center, the natural history museum, the botanical gardens, and the zoo and we go to lots of nature centers in our metro parks regularly. I end up reading a lot of the plaques that describe things out loud and we play with the experiments and things. When out of town, we visit children's and science museums. We volunteer in our local foods movement for the food co-op and a community supported agriculture group, which gives an even more direct meaning to our lives. We also have chickens and bees at their grandparents' house and we grow things ourselves.

We're very casual about it all, but we do spend time looking things up when need be, watching videos on YouTube and reading books, as well as doing lots and lots of "sciencey" things that satisfy a natural curiosity. I'd like to get a microscope next so we can take a closer look at lots of the things we discover. One other resource we've discovered is that we carry a camera with us most of the time so when we're in the woods and we see a bug, we'll take a photo of it, then post it on BugGuide dot net to get an identification if we can't find it on our own.

We've also done experiments like growing borax crystals and playing with corn starch goop and growing our own butterflies.

When I write it all out like that, we sound very sciencey. I always thought we were far more art-focused. Hmm. I guess it all kind of blends together.

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