For young children, curiosity is a part of their being. They are constantly questioning how the world works, experimenting, predicting outcomes, observing, and drawing conclusions. In essence, each young child is already a scientist!
As educators, we want to capitalize on and encourage that curiosity as much as possible. Our regular daily curriculum includes many pre-science skills, but each year in January we make science extra fun and exciting with SCIENCE WEEK. This is a chance to really shine the spotlight on the learning process!
In our classroom “laboratories”, hands-on learning brings science to life for the kids. Each class gets to experience a different experiment each day. In some cases, each child does an individual experiment, while other times, the class will work together as a group. Scientific vocabulary is introduced (yes, in Spanish!). We discuss, “What do you think will happen?” (prediction), “What do we change to make it happen?” (variables), “What are the steps?” (methodology), “What do you see happening?” (observation), and “Why do you think that happened?” (conclusions). We can do this at a simpler level for the younger students, and a more advanced level for our four and five year olds. Sometimes, experiments fail. We usually get a good laugh and then make it another learning opportunity by discussing why the experiment failed and allowing the children to make guesses.
Safety is another important concept covered during science time. What can students do by themselves, and what do they need an adult to help with? Making science fun engages our teachers, too! Watch out for teachers in crazy Einstein wigs, silly glasses, and lab coats during Science Week. Dressing up builds anticipation in the kids, and they can’t wait to see what their funny teachers will do next!
Being a scientist is a blast! Ask your child to tell you about their experience, and encourage them to experiment at home (with proper supervision). Who knows, they may be inspired to become part of our next generation of scientists!