How to inspire science learning
How to inspire science learning that expands young minds through explorationChildren who love science could grow up to shape our future, cure diseases, discover a new planet, help preserve our current one - the possibilities are endless. Fostering enthusiasm for astronomy, physics and chemistry at an early age helps to guide kids' natural curiosity and teaches them to dream big.
Science learning has a huge, positive impact on a student's life. And it's much more dynamic than reading text books and writing reports on classroom experiments. In the same way that dressing up as an historical character gives students a more tangible understanding of a particular period in history, conducting experiments out of the classroom is an excellent way to encourage them to observe and question the world around them.
Considering how enthusiastic young people are about insects and outer space, it’s surprising they don’t all aspire to be future scientists. In The Telegraph, one female space scientist laments that many students don’t think they’re smart enough to excel in the subject. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to spur children’s interest and boost their confidence in the subject.
Break up the nightly routine and go stargazing. Ease into it by simply talking about what you see, pointing out the brightest stars and the Big and Little Dippers if the night is clear enough to see them. Research other constellations together and use a basic telescope to see how many constellations he can find one weak, and still recall the next.
Why? Why? Why?
Children are natural interrogators, always asking why things are the way they are. Adults do their best to explain why the sky is blue and the grass green, but at some point it helps to convert these interrogations into investigations. Once they’re old enough to read, take them to the library and let them find the answers to their own questions.
The more they discover, the deeper they’ll continue questioning. Check out books with photographs and illustrations to help them visualize what they’re learning about. Eventually, their investigation is bound to hit a crossroads of possibilities.
This is the perfect time to encourage them to try experiments to find their answer. A basic chemistry set and a notebook to record observations will get them started. They may even find an idea for entering a science fair.
If you live near a metro area, surprise her with a trip to the science museum. Many interactive exhibits like those at New Jersey’s Liberty Science Center are designed to help students experience microbes and wind energy in an up close, memorable way. When science learning is fun it stops feeling like work and starts becoming a passion.
Science learning encompasses everything around us, so what better way to take it all in than encourage a student to start a nature journal? Their subject is the great outdoors and there really are no rules. They can write down insect behavior, describe different birds and nests, and sketch unusual plants they find and basically record their day-to-day experiences.
After a few months of journaling, add a microscope to the mix so they get a more in-depth look. They may not understand everything they see at first. The combination of school, reading and persistent exploration will gradually add up to scientific acumen.
TV and movie nights
Don’t write off the power of great storytelling, especially when seen through the eyes of an open-minded child. Some of our most innovative thinkers, including award-winning scientists, credit their passion for the field to early exposure via Star Trek, Star Wars and other science fiction entertainment. Jurassic Park, Firefly and even The Big Bang Theory all feature scientists and explorers in their extraordinary comfort zones.
The world will always have a place for enthusiastic, driven scientists. You never know where a little encouragement and a magnifying glass may lead. Fuel their dreams with mini adventures.