Sunday, January 25, 2015

This month’s topic of Poppins Book Nook is To the Laboratory, and today I am sharing some books and activities for future scientists.
Science Books and Ideas for Future Scientists

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Books that Answer “Why” Questions

I wonder why
Every child is a scientist who has innumerable why and what if questions. It’s rather common for parents of today’s world to look up answers on computers and mobile devices, but I still believe in good old fact books that children can browse whenever they can. We have a lot of books in our home library that are great for this purpose. I Wonder Why series is a lot of fun – it is built in Q&A format and answers in a concise form to typical questions kids might ask. Sometimes there are also suggestions of activities that kids can do to get a hands-on experience with the topic of their interest. Other great books for kids age 5+ that allow to dig deeper into particular topics are older A Child’s First Learning Library series, Usborne First Encyclopedia series, and, of course, DK Eyewitness series.

Books with Science Experiments

What is it made of
Again, nowadays, there is no problem to find great science experiments online. In fact, I also diligently collect them on my Science Pinterest board. But I still cannot pass up a well written book of science experiments. I wrote about our favorites in the post about Science Experiments and Science Books, but What Is It Made Of? by Dan Glover remains Smarty’s absolute favorite and has been “read to death” by now. Of course, we also did a fair number of suggested experiments from that book.

Books That Take Science on the Next Level

My Science Project Is Due Tomorrow
Let’s be honest – when kids experiment with soda and vinegar, mix colors, or make frozen bubbles – it’s spectacular and absorbing science play, but it’s not “real science”. Scientific method requires a lot more rigor and, sadly, more “boring” for kids than spectacular science that they cannot explain but can still enjoy. I am not in favor of introducing full scientific method too early except its vocabulary, but older children need to be able to formulate a hypothesis, design the ways to test it and record their results. This is something that is usually taught to kids in US when they are in the fourth and fifth grades (9-11 year old), and I think it’s a good age to really comprehend this method. Younger kids in our school are taught some of these skills when they are making class projects for their annual science fair. Participation in science fair is open to all kids from K and up, and My Science Project Is Due Tomorrow offers some fun experiments for younger scientists. I like that many of the experiments do require kids to record their results and the book also teaches them “why”s of each experiment. I am still trying to get Smarty to wrap her head around all the “ingredients” of a real science project that she wants to do for her science fair this year as an individual participant.

Activities for Science Play

The best way to encourage science play is to introduce kids to the basics and to safety techniques, and then let them try things out on their own. We put together Lab in a Box for exactly this purpose and my daughter had a lot of fun making potions.
Lab in a Box

Activities to Introduce Scientific Method

When I want to prepare experiment for my daughter nowadays, I try to set it up in a way that will make her formulate a hypothesis and, hopefully, record her observations:

Science Classes and Camps for Kids

In addition to everything we do at home, I welcome the idea of “different hands” teaching my child about science techniques. Every year Smarty takes "Mad Science" after school class for 10 weeks, and we also tried Mad Science Camp when she was younger. That camp was OK, but kids were doing science only for an hour or two, the rest was “daycare”.  Last year we sent her to Camp Galileo that had the topic of Adventured Down Under. Kids learned to construct wind-powered cars and hurricane-proof structures, and Smarty had so much fun that she is begging us to send her for 2 weeks this summer. Hopefully, we can pull it off – we really want her to attend the new Galileo Makers camp, and she wants to go to Mount Everest Expedition. I wrote a post on selecting a good summer camp last year about Camp Galileo and happy to participate in their promotion campaign this year - registration is already open, and my readers can receive $30 off their registration using code INNOVATE2015 on the checkout.
Camp Galileo

You Turn

Do you have a favorite book for little scientists?
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An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

The Young Scientist Kits offer a pretty good, early introduction to the scientific method, and a proper science journal format - that's one of the reasons we like them. Moving from science fun and demonstration to "real science" is extremely important - but not always joyously fun, as children get a little older. It's where interests start to separate, and you find the ones who are geared toward science, and the ones who are not - then you take it to the next level and add in all the science based math!

Lauren Moore said...

My boys are definitely still in the baking soda and vinegar stage, but they love to ask questions so thank you for all the suggestions!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Great post! I find we have very little time to do anything outside of school during the academic year, but this will be helpful for summer!

Ticia said...

It is hard to make the transition from science fun to science why. I'm trying to get the kids to make that transition, but it's just not fun.

Andrea Vasey said...

Being a real science geek I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to do, and start to understand experiments! Thanks for linking up to this weeks #parentingpinitparty

Anonymous said...

You shared some fantastic book suggestions. My budding scientists are going to love discovering a few of them!
Thank you for helping to bring a spoonful of reading fun to the Poppins Book Nook this month!