Sometimes it can be hard to convince kids that learning is fun. While parents can’t necessarily control how exciting the school day is, they can make off-hours learning more fun and exciting — especially when it comes to a potentially hands-on subject like science.
It is particularly important to foster an interest in science at an early age. Not only does an understanding of its principles mean a greater understanding of how the world works, the need for experts in scientific fields is on the rise, according to Labor Department statistics.
If you’re not too up on the subject yourself, don’t worry. You don’t need to be Sir Isaac Newton to put a spotlight on science, say experts.
“Children are natural explorers. They want to roll over rocks to see what critters are hiding below, and take apart gadgets to see how they work. It’s important to encourage that. We don’t want our kids to just consume technology — we want them to design it, build it, and be innovators,” said “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, an elementary school teacher and co-author of the “Nick and Tesla” book series for kids.
Here are a few ways to get started.
Make your home a laboratory. In order for your experiments to be safe and successful, be sure to follow instructions. There are plenty of free online resources that parents can turn to for science fair and experiment ideas — and complete instructions. For example, to build your own fog tornado or make your own rock candy, you can visit www.ScienceBob.com for step-by-step guides.
An exciting work of fiction can be inspiring. Expose your kids to entertaining movies and books that feature the application of science in action-packed scenarios.
For example, the “Nick and Tesla” series, by Pflugfelder and writer and journalist Steven Hockensmith, follows the adventures of two 11-year-old siblings, who use science and electronics to solve mysteries.
Narratives are peppered with blueprints and instructions, so young budding inventors at home can follow along. Information about their latest book, “Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab,” as well as the other books in the series can be found at www.NickandTesla.com.
Take a trip
One thing that most museums have in common is signs that say “do not touch.” But at a science museum, it’s all about interactive fun. Take the kids to learn more about their favorite subjects, from animals to outer space to volcanoes.
Remember, science is all around us, so you don’t necessarily need to go somewhere special to get kids thinking about it. Turn a regular day of errands into one of scientific discovery. Encourage your kids to note their observations on paper and discuss what they’ve seen and what it means at the end of the day.
Just because the school bell rings, doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Take steps to make science a bigger and better part of your kid’s day.