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what are we doing to teach our kids science?

 
pollinator
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Reading the post on bodies on down causes me to realize how much different how I was raised is from most peoples experience.  Dead chicken we were not going to eat would have gotten an autopsy in my family with a full anatomy lesson as we did it.  Both parents regularly asked what we observed and how we knew what we thought we knew.

Do you teach your kids all you can?  When you are experimenting do you explain what you are doing and what you hope to learn?  Do you encourage them to experiment?
 
pollinator
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We're letting our 1 yr old garden with us - he's not learning much right now, but he's getting used to being "dirty" and touching "gross" things like worms and bugs. hopefully it allow him to not be squeamish in the future.

we also plan on doing more nature/outdoors/ecology home-school courses, like this one:
https://foresthistory.org/education/trees-talk-curriculum/

We got someone to send us free print materials for a similar curriculum, but I can't find the link right now...

my plans also include me teaching my kids how to be a critical thinker - examining evidence, knowing how logic and reason work, and how to apply it to their worldview/culture.


There's also a few threads here about teaching kids to use hand-tools, if you search around; lots of good ideas.
 
pollinator
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I don't have any kids to teach science to these days, my daughter already graduated college.

Something I knew about and was going to try to share was the Heirloom Chemistry set (seen in video below) but found out it was no longer available. What made it different was it had real chemicals and real scientific glass. Could it be dangerous? Probably, but that is part of chemistry. Draw back was it was also expensive. Now I wouldn't have teased you folks with this if I hadn't found another option, similar.



OK that is the Heirloom Chemistry set that is no longer available.

But there is the Atomic Chemistry Set,
Could it be dangerous? Probably. Is it expensive? US $495.00 I would probably say so.Could it be worth it? If your kid really is into science and chemistry, definitely.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Atomic-Chemistry-Set-Chemistry-Set-Glassware-Chemicals-Lab-Equipment-/272962899957






Yep I am that irresponsible uncle who gives kids dangerous toys, that they love and parents hate. Someone has to do it.
 
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Teach kids to use the imagination. Simple questions like "why lizards can walk on ceilings" will do wonders to their imagination. When they are old enough teach them to question the rationale in everything not to believe by faith but rather reason. Information is all out there. They will find the right ones on their own. Just teach them how to think.
 
pollinator
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By doing it with them, and making it part of normal life!

Got a kid fascinated by rainbows? Spend a day messing about with the hose in the garden. What type of spray works best? What direction to spray?

Kid like art and colouring? Get some filter paper and felt tip pens. Make some ink dots and do chromatography; work out what inks are made of different colours.

Make indicator from cabbage water, and test a whole variety of different household substances.

Grow plants - sunflowers work well - and experiment to decide which growing method works best.

So many options.

But just make a questioning attitude the norm, and help them devise their own “experiments” to answer those questions.
 
gardener
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Devin Lavign wrote:

Yep I am that irresponsible uncle who gives kids dangerous toys, that they love and parents hate. Someone has to do it.

Yes, but how about you also volunteer to mentor the child in the subject? So many children don't have non-parental mentors in our current North American family situation. I totally wish my two boys had grown up with a non-nuclear male role model. (husband's an only, I only have unmarried sisters - so no uncles at all!) That doesn't mean do it for them. (I often tell parents of young children that they need to let them test gravity while they're still young enough to bounce, rather than them testing it in the family car at age 16. Then I watch how their faces change when they parse what I'm saying and the light bulb goes on and the head nods that little bit!) It means asking questions and letting them talk out their theories and thoughts.
 
pioneer
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Considering that only 1/3 or so of Americans "believe in" evolution by natural selection, I would say that as a society,  we are failing miserably with regards to scientific education.  
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
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Jay Angler wrote:Devin Lavign wrote:

Yep I am that irresponsible uncle who gives kids dangerous toys, that they love and parents hate. Someone has to do it.

Yes, but how about you also volunteer to mentor the child in the subject? So many children don't have non-parental mentors in our current North American family situation. I totally wish my two boys had grown up with a non-nuclear male role model. (husband's an only, I only have unmarried sisters - so no uncles at all!) That doesn't mean do it for them. (I often tell parents of young children that they need to let them test gravity while they're still young enough to bounce, rather than them testing it in the family car at age 16. Then I watch how their faces change when they parse what I'm saying and the light bulb goes on and the head nods that little bit!) It means asking questions and letting them talk out their theories and thoughts.



So far I haven't had the opportunity for anything structured, but I would amenable to the idea if it showed up

I do tend to bond with a lot of friends kids and end up spending a lot of time with these children. I think due to actually talking to them like they are normal humans, rather than down at them like they are dumb. If something I say doesn't seem to be understood, I will try to simplify, but almost never refuse to tell the child the truth. Only if it really is a difficult topic (mean for them to grasp intellectually or emotionally, not difficult for me) do I explain that it just isn't appropriate for their age, and how much I know it sucks to have questions before your ready to understand the answer.

I remember as a kid being so frustrated that adults thought us kids were dumb, we might have been ignorant but that is not dumb. I have never forgotten the kid me, so tend to still relate to kids well.

I also make a lot of eye contact with kids, even if that means I have to get down low to where they are for the younger ones. And well I also just tend to pay attention to kids, listening to what they say without much correction or passing judgement. I don't know how many times I have been talking to adults and the kid comes over "mommy/daddy" patiently waits and adults just keep talking with no acknowledgement the child has just asked for attention for a question. This often will go on for awhile, I see the frustration the child has, it was just a quick question to get permission to do something but the child is being ignored. If it goes too long I will often start to address the child myself to find out what they want. Especially when they are being well behaved trying to wait patiently. But 2 min is a long wait for a young kid, it seems an eternity.

The interactions I have had with kids has merited some great results though. A couple examples:

Like having a six yr old girl figure out that to an alien species we here on earth would be the aliens. That it is a matter of perspective. (of course if there are aliens, it was not determined by her if they exist)
Or a 3 yr old boy learning about counterbalance in regards to heavy equipment and how they move such heavy loads. Explaining to me how they should keep the bucket low to keep from loosing balance since high in the air the weight is further from the weight in the machine.

Both of these kids I guided them but let them come to the understanding themselves, and had it explained fairly well to me by them

I generally have found one of the best things to get the most out of a kid intellectually, is don't assume that they don't understand higher levels of thought, let them show you the level of understanding they have. Once you know the level they are comfortable at, use that as a base to communicate but keep stretching just a little further to challenge them. Drop it back if it is too much, but keep trying a little out of reach here and there to see if they do reach out and grab hold of that level. I really have been amazed at some of the things I have heard come from kids that really are profound and amazing, and honestly not all adults can even grasp. The fluidity of reality for the younger kids can make for some very interesting grasping of complex ideas that adults struggle with. And the older kids lack of presupposing they know everything (like most adults) can open them up to so much questioning of entrenched ideas that very well could need some revision.
 
pollinator
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Since the OP's primary question was "What are we doing to teach our kids science?"  I always start with the notion of examining what we accept as factual.

The first thing I teach young people (teens and early 20s) when I am given the opportunity to mentor or guide in some way is to not blindly accept things as truth and factual just because the information comes from a university, think tank, laboratory, peer-reviewed publication, or from someone calling themselves a scientist. I’m sure we can all give examples and point to terrible science and less-then-altruistic motivations for what is reported as factual. Much of what is reported as factual in the scientific world is not even based on an open and honest application of the scientific method.

There are many inept or wrongly motivated people who have advanced degrees, are part of funded research projects, or are backed by a university department. Even peer-reviewed publications, for example, have been repeatedly found to report information from an editorial bias or biased to funding sources.

I’m certainly not claiming that all information from these kinds of sources is wrong or not factual. I’m saying we all need to remind ourselves not to blindly accept information from these kinds of sources as factual and then base our own personal dogma on this information.

Question sources, or at least understand that sources should be questioned. It’s hard work to not swallow everything that comes to us from seemingly credible sources. It’s damned hard work because it means we have to dig into things ourselves if we want the truth in a particular area (at least to our personal satisfaction). That doesn’t mean we all have to set up multi-million-dollar research projects. It does mean we can dive in and consume as much material as reasonably possible about a topic and hopefully find a balance of information to come to an informed opinion.

And before anyone chimes in with a joke … this is not a veiled statement about round/flat Earth theory.
 
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We use Ambleside Online completely, so the science is extremely rigorous, as are all the other aspects of the free curriculum. It begins with nature study for several years and advances through to more in-depth experimentation and deeper books on a wide variety of the sciences. It helps me a lot, to avoid decision fatigue, to utilize the curriculum while holding to the Charlotte Mason philosophy.
 
pollinator
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I find teaching kids no problem. I say “ i don’t know” to what i don’t know and together we talk about it. I get curious too then, and the child uses imagination to come up with explanations. Doesn’t matter we travel together through our thoughts.
Adults are much trickier to teach! Schools deliver make pretend know it alls afraid of failure, lacking in courage and imagination with a just tell me what to do attitude.
I made a solar dryer for and partly with my daughter to attract her attention to science. I failed. She is very keen on learning about biology though.
 
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mostly encourage them to experiment, experiment help them know more deeply
 
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My daughter is big on music, and especially for younger ages, They Might Be Giants has a pretty great, "Here Comes Science" album. It's more of an introduction to many topics than a deep dive, but I love that intelligent kids songs are out there and I would love to hear more of them! I also feel that stories (books on tape, perhaps?) with sciency aspects would be wonderful, but I haven't managed to find any yet. "Peter and the Wolf" can help kids identify instruments by sound by associating them with characters, but the story is a little outdated, and I'm thinking even more science than that would be good, if possible! (Do you folks know of any?)

I agree about treating children with the respect of an equal whenever possible (perhaps one from another planet who needs thorough help culturally and physically...) I feel that most grownups would not put up with being treated the waymost children are. When I have to say no, I always explain why. In return, I feel like we often share the feeling that we are on the same team working on the same goals, which helps for everything- learning science stuff, being comfortable asking questions, and going along with rules. I feel like my best science teachers had similar feelings in the classroom.
 
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My husband was a scientist for many many years and I'm a trier so our kids have grown up watching us experiment with millions of different things with varying results. My kids have never been particularly interested in anatomy. I did try to show them things when we were butchering and they were just like, yeah cool, and wandered off. I field about a million WHY questions a day though. Sometimes I field so many my brain starts hurting and I ask them to stop. Having kids will certainly teach you how little you really know.
 
author
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julian Gerona wrote:Just teach them how to think.



I absolutely agree with this sentiment. Any adult can help foster wonder in children. And wonder paired with guidance directly correlates to a child's interest in science, asking questions, being considerate of their behavior, and radically changing their mindset to one that practices Observe and Interact. When I worked as a School Garden Coordinator, my goal was to teach science and permaculture skills to children in the garden, but I found that I first needed to cultivate the mindset of a scientist, a gardener, and a permaculturist in the children. I needed to demonstrate and guide students on how to not jump to conclusions, rely on prejudices about insects, or tromp all over healthy soil--I had to show them how to respect each other, the land, and themselves. I am a big fan and teacher of science, but I believe a guiding mindset should be encouraged first and then the science skills they learn will hold more meaning.
 
julian Gerona
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Actually teaching children how to think and science starts at infancy. In fact most important at this stage. Once the baby starts hearing sound then let him hear good sounds as often. When he starts seeing then make him see beautiful images. Same with nice smells and good taste. By 6 or 7 months he should be touching or grabbing and investigating everything. At this age you will know if you've have a good scientist. Do everything to shield the baby from negatives all kinds of negatives. The logic here is that all the senses are connected to a central processing unit or the brain. Every time the senses are use the brain is also thinking, you are essentially teaching him how to think and cultivating his curiosity. Discoveries starts with curiosity guided by the senses which often is express in intuition. If the connection between the brain and senses is solid those intuition will be converted into a conscious knowledge.

 
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julian Gerona wrote:Information is all out there. They will find the right ones on their own. Just teach them how to think.



Absolutely, Julian.

If you teach kids how to think instead of what to think, they will have enough common sense not to swallow the poular collective cultural memes, and will have the insight to be able to discern for themselves real information from fake information. Dependent scientists cannot be trusted when there is a financial conflict of interest.
 
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