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unschooling and the science/tech fields

860 Views 12 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  RiverSky
We are planning to unschool our 5 year old. He's learned so much in his first 5.5 years that we don't see any reason to change that!
I am curious though if any of your unschooled children have gone into or are interested in the science or tech fields? The very few "older" unschoolers I know are all into the arts. Nothing wrong with the arts; I've just been wondering about this. And yes, dh and I both have degrees in information technology.
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Hi! We have been unschooling for a few months since taking J(8) out of school. Her interests right now are science, computer, and geography. For science, I bought a couple of books full of cool experiments to do and we try and get to a few a week. She loves astronomy, biology, and nature. I have a nature field guide and we go on nature walks, collecting specimens and looking at things through a magnifying glass. There are lots of websites where she can play science games, too. She looks through human body books and asks tons of questions. Usually, while she's playing, something will spark and interest and a lot of times it somehow turns into science. (e.g. melting ice cubes, cooking with me, the physics of playing-card towers, creating a circuit, etc).

As far as technology, she uses the computer often. She created her own website and blog. She learned how to use MS Word and can create any kind of document now with different fonts, colors, and sizes, numbering, columns, and tables. She can navigate her way around websites and knows how to look up information. We all want to learn HTML, so we might do that together.

This is all done through her own interests. I try to catch whatever "spark" arises in her and make fun suggestions or strew some related things in her path. So far, it's usually worked. The idea is to really trust your child and know that the learning will happen. Good luck!
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One of the reasons we decided that homeschooling might be a better fit for our son (now 10) was because he is so interested in the sciences, and school only offered one hour of science per week (He went to school through the first month of 2nd grade).

Now, he spends hours reading about science, exploring nature, setting up experiments, studying the periodic table of elements (sometimes he even takes it with him in the car :LOL ). We have several good physics, and chemistry books that he frequently pulls off the shelves. We subscribe to kid-oriented science magazines, which he devours, as well as National Geographic, which he reads as well. He spends lots of time watching Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel (the history channel too - but that's another thread
). During the school year, he takes science workshops for homeschoolers, and we look for opportunities for him year round to explore his interests. He thinks Google is the best invention ever, because he has a whole world of knowledge literally right at his fingertips.

He spent a good chunk of this week standing in a creek pulling out bits of iron, and other rocks (geology is his fave), looking up facts about iron and other metals on Google, and studying his periodic table.

I don't personally know any grown unschoolers who've gone into the sciences, but I do know of at least onewho did: Thomas Edison!

And, if you have a budding scientist in your home, a book you might enjoy reading is "Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist" edited by John Brockman. It's a collection of essays by scientists who describe their childhoods, and how their early experiences influenced (or not) their career choices. Maybe because we homeschool I was looking for their school stories, but I remember when reading it being struck by how little their elementary and high school schooling contributed to their interests. Most of them learned what really interested them outside of school, and then were able to pursue their passions once they got to college.

Hope this helps a bit!

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I wasn't unschooled as a kid, but as a science major in college I can honestly say what got me to where I am now was what I learned OUTSIDE of school.

Consider investing in a decent quality microscope. My parents gave me one for Christmas one year and I think it was the all time best gift I ever recieved.
the last 2 years we had classes taught by a gal who was working on her PHD in science she was an unschooler and went to college early. When she taught the classes for our unschoolers she was fantastic-- because she loves the subject it is not hard to become interested and the class structure was such that you could have almost gotten buy without reading because the material was discussed every time-- when it came to dissection they found a place that did not use formaldehyde
in any case the class was a very advanced class and if the kids wanted to get college credit it would have been some more study a big test and the cost of the credits. there were labs in 3/4ths of the classes and they did a great deal with dna, gene splicing, cloning
there is also a math club in our group and a chess club
When I was in highschool I had an earth science teacher who -- lived the science and their family outings and vacations revolved around geologic formations.... and I think you can get hand books now that discuss the geology of particular places---
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These are great stories!! I've enjoyed reading them. And I've put that, "Curious Minds" book on hold at the library.

It seems like an unschooling enviroment would potentially open up a lot more room to do science and tech stuff than formal schooling would. Science always seemed like a dead subject to me, but that's because I'm not science-minded and we didn't have time/freedom to explore or even have any input! Experiments were always whatever the teacher chose, not what looked interesting. With unschooling, your child could do all kinds of related experiments, based on what caught his eye.

When I was in school, of course this was back in the dark ages :LOL , we could study BASIC and then Pascal. When we moved to another state, while they had lots of impressive AP classes, the only thing in computers was, "keyboarding'. With unschooling, if your child was interested, he could spend as much time as he wanted to with computers or coding or something. That wouldn't be allowed in school or if it was, it would be within the confines of a very specific 45 minute class. Our homeschooling group has started a Lego Robotics club for young kids. There is unlimited time for an unschooler to follow these sorts of interests.

My son is only 4. But I'm trying to start a fun box. Someone here gave me the idea. I have seashells, sticks, buttons, empty matchboxes, wooden bits, etc. It's all for creating things. With an older child, you could put things like pulleys in it, to encourage exploration of science.

Uh oh, the kids are doing something and I'm not sure what it is. I need to go check on them!
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Science is only a dead, boring subject if you're trying to learn it from a textbook. For kids science can be and absolutely should be based on experiential and experimental approaches.
No arguments here!
Still interested in hearing about older unschoolers in the sciences...

As an aside, I'm not pushing science or even concerned about it. I think dh and I would both have been happier in other careers. As it was, I think my enjoyment of writing is what got me promoted into management - I wrote better memos than programs! :LOL Its interesting (and a bit unschoolish?) that I was able (unwittingly) to find a way to utilize my true strengths to turn my job into something I truly enjoyed. Of course it pales in comparison to staying home with my lil' guy!
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My Dd has considered going into marine biology. She enjoys ocean animals, plant life etc.
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I know one formerly unschooled vet tech... she became a vet tech sometime in her teens and may be planning vet school at some point, I dunno. I know lots of unschoolers who grew up to become computer geeks, though. Most of them started programmming while in their teens or earlier..

I didn't mention that my kids are all computer geeks-- one has a good job in the field the rest are just very attached to their computers.This goes for the arts as well--- because of computer aided design.
I was unschooled and am a Biology/Chemistry major, next year I will be in graduate school for Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The only problem I found when I first started college was I was behind in math (you can't unschool algebra the way you need it in college) but it was really no big deal. I took a remedial course and then took college algebra the next semester and was the smartest person in my class.

I am always in the top of my classes. I have no idea if it has anything to do with unschooling or not. But it didn't hurt me any! I went to school until middle school and just hated it and my parents took me and my bro and sister out and let us go. I loved it. Probably for the first year I didn't do anything but lay around the house and watch tv but the older I got and realized I couldn't live at home forever, I started researching colleges and decided I REALLY wanted to go to college so that is what I did. I was actually the first homeschooler at my college to ever go and they didn't know what to do with me except let me

Belive me, you child will be fine. I am homeschooling my girls (I do teach reading and math), other than that we unschool, and my oldest has been heavily interested in science and math since she was like 2! If I sent her to a public school I am afraid she would lose those interests

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Originally Posted by marilynmama
I was unschooled and am a Biology/Chemistry major, next year I will be in graduate school for Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Marilyn
Wow, what a fascinating story! Thank you for sharing.
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