In many schools late winter is time for Science Fair. This can be pure drudge work for lots of kids, but done right, its a fun way to spark children’s interest in science. Little experiments can trigger more questions and set life’s course.
We have a book called My Big Science Book by Simon Mugford and published by priddy books which is full of fun experiments for kids to perform. Each asks a simple question and answers with simple explanations and a physics or chemistry experiment any kid can perform. Each experiment demonstrates a principle that every kid will already be somewhat familiar with. The equipment is so basic that you can pick up anything that you don’t already have around the house for a few dollars. The age range for this book is probably 6 or 7 to 11 or 12.
The time to get kids interested is now, before bad attitudes and the ‘science is hard and boring‘ messages sink too far in. And parents’ attitudes are especially important. If parents take the attitude that science is for nerds, you’ll turn your kids off to what may be the key to their future, both economically and occupationally. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know this stuff yourself. It’s easy at this level to start picking up concepts and learning right along with the kids. And never forget, learning is fun.
Science and discovery are so much fun to a bright and growing mind. Children need the exposure and the fun that come with it. They need the encouragement to pursue it. My own wife came home from school in the second grade and told her family that she was going to be a scientist. She had made up her mind and she was encouraged to pursue it. She never swerved from that goal, except to consider becoming a physician. Today, she’s a Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology with important contributions to cellular immunology. What led her to decide to be a scientist at the age of 8? No one really remembers, but it must have been something fun and it must have been something interesting to start a fire in her mind that still burns today.
If anyone has stories or other helpful books to share, that would be great.