Family Science for the Unscientific
Suppose your kids don't get their science lessons from Ms. Frizzle, the beloved teacher from the Magic Schoolbus. And suppose, just suppose, you're not a rocket scientist. How can "just plain parents" find -- and encourage -- fun family science? Here's a list of suggestions to get you started:
Turn your kitchen into a science lab.
Once a month, invite your kids to pick a drawer or a cupboard. Then, together, design an investigation. If it's the bread drawer, sacrifice two slices of bread to science. Dampen one and see which goes moldy first. If it's the condiment cupboard, let kids learn about density by mixing oils, vinegars, ketchup, soy sauce. Or investigate which household acids (vinegar, lemon juice, or cola, for example) clean old pennies best. Books on kitchen, bathtub, and backyard science abound; check your library.
Check out a children's museum.
Many communities have discovery centers or science museums where kids can create giant bubbles, stroke a starfish, experience a simulated earthquake, find out what they weigh on Jupiter, unearth pretend fossils, disassemble household appliances, or discover exactly what happens when the toilet flushes. Check the workshops, day camps, and special events these places offer, too.
See what's up at Park & Rec.
Many local parks departments conduct nature hikes, kite-flying contests, moonlight walks, recycling drives, birding and wildflower expeditions, or soap-box derby races. And there's science in all those things!
Visit the zoo.
Even if your kids do nothing more than run at top speed from the aardvarks to the zebras (and everything in between), they're absorbing the sights and sounds of wildlife. And that's a good beginning for natural science.
Subscribe to a kids' magazine.
Kids love getting mail. And magazines like Your Big Backyard, Ranger Rick, 321 Contact, Kids Discover, Kids World, National Geographic, Family Fun, and others blaze a natural trail to at-home science ventures.
Surf the World Wide Web.
The Web is such a rich resource for science that we've devoted a whole section to it later in this chapter!
Try on-screen science.
When you don't want the kids to make a mess, launch a CD-ROM. There are lots of CD-ROMs that give kids an up-close look at anatomy, biology, chemistry, electronics, oceanography, physics, zoology, and just about every other branch of science.
Reprinted with the permission of IDG Books Worldwide.
For a host of science ideas and activities for kids in grades 4 to 8, visit Going Where? The Science Fair!
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