I love science, and I know a number of other people who do as well. Most of us share a common trait – one or both of our parents took the time to do fun science activities with us as children. Parents who have a science background themselves have an advantage in this, as they already know plenty of things to share, but no matter what your background, you are never too old to learn and enjoy science. As you and your child explore how fun science can be, you teach your child that learning science is both fun and worthwhile, and this does carry over into school.
The science projects you can do in your own home are countless, and you should never run dry on ideas, since there are websites galore, books at your library, and your own imagination to provide you with all the activities you could desire. You can also buy pre-made science kits – “grow your own crystals”, “50-in-1 electronics experiments”, etc.
Search the web for science projects and activities and you can find many more sites, but here are a few that appealed to me:
At the library, you can either find the science section yourself, or consult a librarian. They’ll be delighted to help, especially when they realize that you’re going to be a regular for them.
Anytime you find yourself (or your child) wondering “Why does this happen?” or “How does this work?” or “What would happen if…?”, you’ve got a chance for a science activity. Rather than letting the thought go to waste, act on it. Look it up online or in a book, or take the thing apart, or try to build one of your own, or just go ahead and see what would happen – using good judgement as far as safety concerns go, of course. If chemicals are involved especially, you should make sure to wear protective equipment (like goggles, gloves and aprons) and consult someone knowledgeable lest you injure yourself with an unexpected explosion.
My own experiences growing up included growing crystals with my Dad, including a purple one inside a clear one. We made our own fossils, play-doh, and I forget what else. Dad also got me an electronics kit, with springs that held the wires in place – no soldering required – and we had weeks of fun with that. On a rainy day during vacation once when I was eight he taught me exponential notation, of all things, and made a game of it. Not only was it fun, but it put me way ahead of the curve when we later went to use it in chemistry and physics. We did a variety of things with vinegar and baking soda; volcanoes, fizz-powered cars and boats, etc. My mom got me books that let me identify birds and trees, giving me some interest in biology as well. I remember spending hours dissecting a broken tape recorder, once my curiosity had been thusly nourished. A word of caution too…make sure that your kids understand about safety, just in case they decide to do like I did at twelve and dissect a battery. Had I not been dressed safely and had the sense to wash, the acid that squirted on me could have been quite harmful.
The moral you can take from all of this is that making science fun for your child (and you) is key to their success in class as well. With an interest sparked, they’ll be more apt to pay attention, more eager to learn, and probably their biggest complaint will be that the science teacher goes so slowly.