How to Raise a Science Lover
Raising a young science lover might sound great, but it’s nowhere near as easy as it seems. Modern pre-school and primary education sometimes trivializes these topics, although teaching strategies are slowly getting better over there. Still, the funds are limited, and not all teachers welcome more STEM-focused schools. What does that mean for you as a parent? Time to take things into your own hands!
Many kids see science as something scary. They see waterfalls of numbers, miles on miles of equations and vocabulary so difficult, that it gives them migraines. One of the hardest things, when encouraging a child to get interested in science, is getting rid of bad stereotypes. Science is fun, exciting and plays right into their interest regarding the world surrounding them! You just have to play your cards right, and employ your own teaching strategies.
So what to do here? Talk. Always talk, and talk a lot. Ask them what interests them about the world, provoke questions and make them question everything. Encourage, but don’t force. Play on things they like. And, to avoid the most common mistake: don’t reward them for doing good. It makes science feel more like a chore, and is bad for child’s development. Let them take pure enjoyment with no other motivations.
Now let’s talk more about some great activities that will help you in your journey.
Observe the World
Best tools for getting kids into science are closer than you think. Just few steps (or miles) away. Take a look at your street together. Explore how electricity works, how data is transferred around the town. See how streetlights glow, talk about plants in the park (or your garden, if you have one). Count things, study numbers. Look at building constructions, and see how laws of physics hold everything together.
If you feel like going for a longer trip or have some nice nature nearby, you may choose this instead. Look at beetles, see how ants are moving and building their ant-hills. Try checking out different sounds sang by birds. See how moss covers certain parts of trees, and tell your kids how to use that, to find their way when they get lost. Observe how water flows in the streams, or even make a small water turbine, to show them some cool physics (just remember not to harm any nature around).
If you want something different, try reading science magazines with your kids. Show them dinosaurs, space maps, articles about animals and building rockets. See what topics they get most interested in and explore these.
And don’t forget about hobbies or things they like to do. Even a cartoon about trains can be used to explain some valuable physics related topics. Same for sports, collecting things, playing with toy cars, music and even video games (more on that later).
Let Them Experiment
Considering how experiments are one of top ways to understand complicated problems, you should seek opportunities for your kids to perform these. Search the web for local science fairs. These often exhibit some amazing physics experiments and even allow kids to participate in them.
Some cities have their own science parks or interactive museums where young ones can learn about optics, magnetics, hydrostatics, acoustics and mechanics. Places lake that can be not only fun way to pass your weekend, but may also inspire lifelong passions.
And don’t forget about classic home experiments like baking soda volcanoes, potato batteries, edible rock candy made through crystallization or rocket balloon cars. You can easily google all of these and most don’t require any special components. Kids love these, and there’s no better way to spark interest than practice.
It’s great to make your kid understand, that they’re not alone in their passion. When they show some interest in chemistry, looking for nearby science clubs might be a fantastic idea. Same for courses regarding their other passions. Nowadays you can easily find a local coding or engineering course, and make your kid join it, as long as he or she is interested. Courses like that, apart from the obvious, make kids meet other kids with similar interests, create bonds and ensure them, that there are more people their age fascinated by the same topics.
Looking for role models is also worth trying. Know any engineer who does an interesting job? Have a scientist, botanist or programmer friend who has a way with words, and can inspire others? Invite them and do something cool with them and your children!
Technology is Your Friend
Using modern tech to teach kids various disciplines is one of the best things about living in the 21st century. Some forms of modern entertainment can provide a wholly new levels of interactivity and fresh teaching strategies. Take video games for example. There are hundreds, or even thousands of fun and enjoyable games, that can introduce children to topics like mechanics, biology, chemistry and even coding. Even Minecraft with proper mods can cover most of these.
There are also solutions that merge toys with video games, like an educational robot. Photon Robot for example was created to teach kids programming, but he can be also used to teach a wide array of disciplines from languages to physics and mathematics.
For example: you and your child can use Photon to create a scientific exercise. Use the app to make a simple program, that will make Photon move in 4 directions. Then use that to teach your child about 4 cardinal directions used in geography and sea navigation. Other idea: ask your kids to make Photon emit green light when you say something, and blue light when you turn out the lights in the room. That will introduce them kid to the concept of action and reaction known from physics. All of the sensors allow for endless possibilities.
In the end, no matter which method you choose, any move towards getting your kid interested in STEM is worth a try. Stick to something they enjoy the most, and take a step into the wonderful world of science together.