Kids Are Scientists
Children: Born Scientists
With their natural curiosity, special wonder, and proclivity to explore, preschoolers and young children are born scientists! Always eager to ask questions, ready to get their hands dirty and use all their senses to explore their environments, most children are born with many of the attributes necessary to become a good scientist. Kids love to test out their ideas and to let their imaginations soar. As they do so, they make scientific discoveries about the world every day, without even knowing it! As daycare caregivers and daycare staff, you can do a lot to encourage children's inborn scientific inclinations and help them learn about basic areas of science.
Kids' Scientific Skills
Many of the skills we marvel about in children are the same skills used in actual scientific investigation, such as:
•- Critical Thinking
You can enhance kids' grasp of science by encouraging them to ask questions, to compare information, to predict results (what do you think would happen if...) and to express their thoughts and ideas.
Learning Science with Children
As you search for science activities and science ideas for children, keep in mind how children learn best and use these means to your advantage. Whenever possible, use all five senses. Kids' science experiments are especially fun since they tend to involve a lot of visual "magic," which children are in awe of. When you add in taste, touch, sound, and smell, kids fall in love with science and clamor for more. A good idea is to connect kids' science projects or science activities to topics currently being discussed or learned about in the daycare setting, such as color, taste, growth, nature, gravity, the solar system, and more. And don't forget that science isn't always about strict learning; some children's science experiments are simply fun!
Ask Open-Ended Questions
One of the most important aspects of teaching kids science is asking open-ended questions. Remember, we want to teach kids to think on their own rather than provide them with all the answers, and science is the perfect medium for developing the skills of inquiry, making observations, and building understanding. You can incorporate science into everyday daycare routines by asking open-ended questions such as:
•- Why did you do it that way?
•- Why/how do you think that happened?
•- What do you expect/think will happen next?
Remember: There's no one 'right' answer when you ask open-ended question, rather the goal is to generate many possible answers.
Science in the Daycare Setting
You may not realize it, but daycare settings are already bursting with opportunities to teach science to kids. It's safe to say that daycares and science go together! Here are but a few of the hundreds of scientific concepts you run into every day, which can formally be introduced to children by offering them some basic scientific vocabulary:
•- Weather/weather changes
•- Insects and bugs (ants, worms, crickets)
•- Butterflies and Caterpillars
•- Textures such as hard, soft, bumpy, rough, smooth, jagged, prickly, and more
•- Colors and shades (including how to mix colors, primary colors, and how rainbows are formed)
•- Movements (under, over, through, around, fast, slow)
•- Weight (heavy versus light)
•- Buoyancy (Which objects float or sink)
•- Gravity (What happens every time you throw a ball in the air?)
•- Nutrients and Healthy Eating
•- Plants (trees, leaves, flowers, weeds, and more)
•- Categorize fruits and vegetables/learn how seeds grow
•- Temperature (hot, cold, freezing, boiling, tepid, warm, etc.)
•- Changing of the seasons
•- Time changes
•- Solids, Liquids, and Gases
•- Cooking Measurements
Key Components of Kids' Science Experiments
Remember to include the following key components in science experiments with kids:
•1) A question/Investigative element
•2) Prediction of outcome
•3) Scientific vocabulary
•4) Hand-on experiment or activity
•6) Drawing Conclusions
As you can see, science is all around us every day. Since kids are scientists by their very nature, all you have to do is provide them with the opportunity to question, observe, explore, evaluate, and conclude - just like professional scientists do!