Getting your kids into Science via Science News

Mad Science
"Mad Science” by Clearwater Public Library is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I read yesterday that the Global STEM Alliance, through after-school programs, are recruiting kids into fields of science I couldn’t dream of when I was a kid. The New York Academy of Sciences is fostering scientific curiosity in kids as early as elementary school with the hope that they will be more STEM ready when they get to college. The article spoke of a 14 year old son of a single mom who was recruited into the Oscar Lemus’s robotics team through the program. (You can read more about that here)

In the Past –

I think I grew up in an age where science was considered a field that either geniuses got into or the privilege of the rich. They also used to say that Doctors beget Doctors, Scientists beget scientists. I don’t know how much of that belief is based on truth but now, in the 21st century, you can see a significant change in attitude towards science as a career. You read every day about people from humble backgrounds going on to do great things. All it takes is a passion for the subject.

Current Trends –

Apart from all the science related programs, scholarships and competitions that are coming up, it is noteworthy how even museums are becoming hubs of scientific education. By introducing interactive displays that make the learning of science less passive and more fun, they are encouraging kids to grow up to love science. In England, there is a festival of geeks that happens in Milton Keyes. ‘It is like a music festival but for people who like to make things. Or as they put it, a temporary village of geeks.’ They have found that there are more and more kids attending over the years.

How Science News Helps–

If you want to raise a science minded child, I would suggest that the best way to get your kid interested is through reading them science news for kids. I can’t pinpoint when the habit started but my kids now insist I read out the latest happenings instead of bedtime stories. I remember their squeals of excitement when I told them that India has had a great success with its Mars Orbiter Mission. They were off planning their own missions, their own interstellar vehicles and have already written down potential names of all the new planets and galaxies they will discover.

Here are some of the ways in which Science News helps –

• They help develop scientific thinking – it has less to do with learning texts by heart and more to do with the process of finding out.
• It helps keep your child occupied in a healthy way. Scientific curiosity leads to scientific experiments and there is no greater way to fill your play time than to turn it into a learning experience
• They teach your kids not to give up – Every great story has within it a tale of trial and error and mostly the lesson that every failure is a stepping stone to greater innovations.

I found a very helpful list of Top 5 websites to keep up with science news, it’s a good place to start building your own li’l scientist. Remember that there is nothing as powerful as a kid’s imagination and when combined with their curiosity, you have a double whammy.

Fun Science Experiment for Kids – Making Music with Bottles

Creating music with bottles

Photo Courtesy Wesley Fryer


We’ve all seen those “musicians” entertaining people by using wineglasses as musical instruments. But you don’t need fancy glassware to make music! Here’s a party trick turned fun science experiment that displays the properties of sound using plain glass bottles filled with water. With a little tweaking, you can even use it as a science fair project idea and steal the show! Let me show you how it’s done.

Suitable for
Grades 3 – 5

Topic covered
Sound and its properties

You will need
•5 or more identical glass bottles
•Metal spoon, knife or fork
•Water

Time required
5 minutes or less to set up the experiment

What to do
•Place the bottles in a row, leaving a gap of four inches between them.
•Now fill them up with water but “stagger” the amount you put into each. Here’s how – The first bottle should contain the least amount of water – say three tablespoons; the second bottle five tablespoons, the third eight tablespoons, and so on. The last bottle must contain the most water. In the end, your bottles will resemble the signal icon bars seen on cellphone screens.
•Your musical instrument is ready for the concert! Tap the fork or spoon or knife on the side of each bottle. Notice how each bottle sounds different? That’s due to the varying amounts of water in each as well as the size and type of bottle used. The best music is produced when you use the same type of bottle. Whether they are soda bottles, beakers or jars, make sure they’re all the same.
•Now try experimenting with ascending or descending scales – you can do this by placing the bottles in order – from the one that produces the lowest pitch to the one that produces the highest.
•You can even tap out a simple melody like Twinkle twinkle little star! For this, you must listen carefully to the pitch produced by each bottle and associating it with the notes of the nursery rhyme. Cool, huh!
•Practice playing until you graduate to more complex music.

How does it happen?
The pitch produced by each bottle depends on the amount of water in it. Bottles with more water will produce lower pitches and vice versa. Sound vibrations are produced by the bottle and it takes on greater vibrating mass as you add water to it. Bottles with less water have less weight to produce vibrations with and therefore produce high pitched sounds.

Channelizing your kid's boundless energy

The warmth in the air has given way to earlier sunsets and cooler breeze. We’ve already broken out our winter stash of woolens and jackets. It’s beautiful outside and there are still enough days where you can go out for a walk and run. For those days where you’re forced to be indoors, though, what would you do? The kids need regular time to blow off all that energy that flows through them. Turning them into couch potatoes is one way to keep them occupied without them running to you every two minutes. However, if their natural activity capacity is not channeled, it could lead to them acting out.

If the space in your house/classroom is limited, you can still manage to get some cardio and fun in. There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest that are so simple; I wish I had thought of them. Among them was something called a PHYSICAL ACTIVITY CUBE that can be used as dice, I immediately went ahead and created many of them with different activities written on them.

Using 6 cardboard or cardstock squares, you tape them up into a box. Each side will have an activity written on them – this could be as regular as “Do 6 jumping jacks” or as quirky as “Do the chicken dance”. You can be as creative as you like. I first saw the idea on Little Family Fun – if you aren’t following them already, do yourselves a favor and get to it.

STA70080.jpg
Image Source and Activity Idea by Little Family Fun - http://www.littlefamilyfun.com/2011/04/physical-activity-cube.html


I’ve already tried this exercise cube with the little ones to great success. My task now is to come up with Halloween activities to put on a new cube. This is going to be really exciting!

Profile

brionnasimpson

Author:brionnasimpson
I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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