Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Science Corner: The science of exploration

Every child loves to create things and my daughter is no exception. I'm always amazed at the different things she creates. Sometimes I get frustrated by all the mess (I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way!). I have to remind myself that she's learning. Exploration is the purest form of learning. I can tell her that she needs to have at least three sides for a building and that the roof helps to give the building more strength and she might even listen to me :), but chance are she will forget. But when she sits down and tries to put it together on her own, she learns through trial and error what gives her building the strength it needs to stand. She internalizes this information and the next time she tries to build a castle, she'll remember what she has learned and apply it to her latest creation.
So how do we as parents encourage exploration as a form of learning?
  1. Provide them the materials: I keep a box of school stuff, such as masking tape, paper, card-stock, paper clips, rubber bands, pencils and so on. She knows that she can take things from this box without asking at any time and I won't be upset (unless she doesn't clean up :)). I also entertain all requests for other materials she needs. For example, when she asked to borrow my plastic bowl and several chopsticks. I asked what she wanted them for; she said for a project. So I said that it was fine, knowing that I probably wouldnt get my chopsticks back. That day she build a bridge for her Littlest Pet Shop animals to go across. She learned which way to place to chopsticks so that they would hold the weight of her animals as they crossed. That day she learned firsthand about the principles of physics. For me, it was worth losing a few chopsticks.
  2. Fill their minds with ideas: We regularly watch Mythbusters which has been fodder for many a project! We use a science program that encourages experimentation and exploration. We also read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Books are great sources for inspiration. The book Castle Diary inspired my daughter to build her own castle out of construction paper and masking tape. A book on minerals inspired her to grow her own crystals and the list goes on and on. The point is to provide an environment in which they can be inspired to explore the topics more.

  3. Explore things yourself: When your child asks, mom how does this work? Don't be afraid to say I don't know, let's try to figure it out.
It's so important to give our children the opportunity to stretch their imagination and to try out their ideas through exploration.

1 comment:

See Jamie blog said...

I don't do this often enough, the "let's try to figure it out." But it is wonderful when I do!