Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scientifically Speaking

Growing up, science was never a big interest of mine. The thought of science appealed to me...scientific method and all that. But it was too dry and textbook. I learned very little that stuck with me.

I decided to change that with my kids. We are taking a shoes off (barefoot hippie, get it?!), hands on approach to science. My goal is to make science memorable and fun.

We generally do an experiment, then ask 3 questions.
1. What did we do?
2. What happened?
3. What did we learn? (or, what were we supposed to learn?)

Each child writes their answers in their science notebook to keep forever. Or not.

My science book philosophy is rather similar to my reading textbook philosophy. You can get both rather cheaper by not using a curriculum. Which works really well for younger students. I would say that as you approach high school, it might be a good idea to do formal biology, basic science, earth science, and chemistry. At least, we probably will.

For now, I have found two great science books for under $10 each, at Barnes and Nobles. Both have 365 experiments.  The fancier one has categories for astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, physics and weather. It has a page at the beginning of each section to record the date, experiment and notes. I use it to write down what we need for each experiment so I remember to buy the materials.

We have made ginger ale (that really fermented-our own distillery), recorded moon cycles, inflated balloons with gases from yeast, grew mold in jars and swung buckets of water around our heads to illustrate centrifugal force.
kind of looks a bit vulgar...

I consider our garden a part of our science studies. We get to learn about dormancy, photosynthesis, seeds and growth.

We also read through library books dealing with animal life, and motion, and all that is chalked up to science too.

I have found that biology, astronomy and geology are much easier to do in the spring, summer and early fall-when it is warm and things outside are growing. Chemistry and physics are able to be hands on in the middle of the winter. Mixing chemicals and watching those reactions. Great, exciting winter activity.

We spent the winter semester this past year studying the periodic table of elements. That was interesting. We'd look the elements up on the internet, and find out characteristics, where they are found, and what each is used for. I think we will possibly continue on with that next winter.

My bff also just told me about a show, Outrageous Acts of Science. This show has video clips of people doing some rather stupid stuff. (darwin award status) But, the science part comes in when scientists explain the why's and wherefore's of what just happened in the stupid clip. From the little I've seen, it is very interesting, educational, and right up my boys' alley. We just might incorporate some of that into our studies next year.

I am also heading towards a more unit study approach to school next year, so we may try some experiments based on things learned scientifically during the time period we will be studying.

All in all, I think we have had a great time doing science, and we have learned some cool things too. When you actually do something, and see the result, it is more memorable than just reading about it in a book. I think so, at least.

Did you like science when you were a kid? How do you teach science to your kids? What is the most spectacular experiment you have ever done?

For more great ideas on how to teach your kids science, check out