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Encouraging Your Kids in Science

Aug 18, 2007
Young children love to learn. The preschool and elementary school years are a great time to build an interest in science that will last through their educational career and perhaps beyond.

Don't be intimidated by whatever knowledge you may have of science. You don't have to know it all. You don't have to be advanced in your understanding. At this level, you're promoting interest in the topic and teaching the early foundations, not doing the math. It's something you can do even if you didn't enjoy science classes yourself.

There are many simple experiments you can do from home, and most don't require anything special. You will often have the supplies you need in the kitchen, and if you don't, they are often available at your local grocery store.

Cooking can be used to help teach basic concepts. When you cook with your kids, they can help you measure things out, learning about what makes a half cup half of a cup. Simple things like that which you understand, you can teach.

There's more than that which you can do with cooking, however. You can make rock candy to show your kids how much sugar can be dissolved in water, and what happens as it collects on a string, forming crystals. You can make ice cream to talk about the freezing point and how liquids become solids.

Boiling water can be a lesson on liquids becoming gasses. Mixing baking soda with vinegar demonstrates a chemical reaction. Cream can be made into butter. Yeast makes bread rise.

These lessons do not have to stop after elementary school. You can discuss the different kinds of heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation) and how they relate to cooking.

When you're using yeast or making crystals, don't forget the magnifying glass or microscope to take a look at the details. You can view the yeast out of the bread, then take a sample of the bread dough after it rises and see how the yeast made the bread look. You can compare crystals grown under different circumstances. Doing this and noting the details is a way to demonstrate the basics of the scientific method.

The best part about many kitchen experiments is that they can be eaten after. This is not true for every experiment, but it's not uncommon. You can also explain the various scientific aspects at different levels for different ages of children. Boiling water turns to gas for younger children, but as they get older, a discussion of what is happening, what the boiling point is and so forth becomes more appropriate.

Don't forget the great times you can have in the kitchen. It's time you get to spend having fun with your kids, exploring things you take otherwise for granted.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at Home with the Kids about being a stay at home mom . Get more ideas on science with your child at http://www.homewiththekids.com/funwiththekids/educational/science.php .
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