Kids love the chance to try experiments, visit zoos, or watch science fiction movies. Sometimes these same kids mystify their parents by deciding that school science is so-o-o boring. But parents aren’t helpless–they can keep that spark of science excitement alive by steering their kids toward activities that help them develop a sense of science mastery, autonomy, and purpose. Here are ten starter ideas.
10. Watch nature shows together. Who doesn’t love to watch a lioness try to bring down a Cape buffalo? While you’re at it, try an engineering show like Design Squad or the favorite of the blow-it-up crowd, Mythbusters.
9. Cook with a sense of daring. Kids like to cook, and they’ll like cooking even more if you give them permission to experiment: vary ingredients one at a time and record comments from the family.
8. Try 3-D puzzles together. Engineers and many scientists need to develop the skill of visualizing three dimensions. Computer games don’t support that.
7. Help kids build stuff in the garage—from birdhouses to bicycles to burglar alarms. Two generations ago, kids spent hours making and fixing things. A five-year old girl who knows a flat-head from a Phillips-head screwdriver has a decent chance of becoming an engineer.
6. Help kids start a collection. Collecting leads to careful observation and classification and gives kids a chance to develop expertise.
5. Go to a planetarium show or science-based iMax movie. Let the kids research museum and community websites to find the opportunities themselves, and let them lead a family outing.
4. Research summer programs or college outreach days. Again, the more responsibility your kids take for finding an activity, the more invested they’ll be in the program.
3. Visit all the museums, aquaria, and zoos within reach. Public libraries often provide free admissions tickets for their patrons.
2. Become a Citizen Science family. Search “citizen science” on the website to join a project on anything from tracking bird migration to measuring light pollution to mapping invasive species.
1. Read great science books together – fiction and non-fiction. Better yet, start a parent-child science books and activities club, where you read about a topic and explore it further through experiments or design projects. Tumblehome Learning will do our best to help you find the best books and activities!