Motivate your kids to love science

June 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Motivate your kids to take an interest in science with these simple games and activities you can do at home.

Why is Science Education Important?

Science is important because it helps to develop analytical thinking, which is important learn in order to become an informed citizen. Ordinary people need to make good decisions about their health, about how they vote, and about all kinds of things in everyday life. For example, if you can think critically and you have basic science literacy, you can better avoid being fooled into buying a miracle cure for baldness, let's say. Or you can better evaluate claims being made by politicians on two sides of an environmental issue in your hometown. With some good solid analytical thinking, chances are you can fix your own broken vacuum cleaner and save yourself a hundred bucks. Science is great practice for solving problems all through life. In fact, many careers not ordinarily associated with science, use scientific principles, so everyone, despite their intended career, benefits from learning about science.. Some examples:

· Hairdresser - coloring hair involves the careful use of chemical dyes and lighteners. Without an understanding of how human hair reacts to these chemicals and how they react to each other, a stylist could turn hair bright orange, green or another unwanted color.

Mechanic - to be able to properly repair machinery like cars or heating systems, a mechanic needs to understand the scientific method. Really, it's true. Sometimes it is not obvious what is wrong with a machine. To fix the problem, a mechanic will need to come up with a 'hypothesis' of what could be wrong. Then he needs to figure out ways to test if his theory is correct. He needs to eliminate possible causes, one by one, and come up with tests that will isolate the real problem. That kind of problem solving is the scientific method.

How To Get Kids to Take an Interest in Science:

1. Make a Science Connection a Student's Interests
Don't start with "science." Start with your child's personal interests. No matter what your child's interests are, there's a way to explore the science within that interest area. Suppose your daughter really loves pets. If you have a dog, you could help your daughter do an experiment to find out if dogs have a "paw preference" just like humans are either right-handed or left-handed. Or let's say your son really loves sour candy. You could help him explore the science of taste buds and how different people can tolerate different levels of sour. Or you could make rock candy and learn about solutions, saturation, and crystal growth. At Science Buddies, we help students find science projects in traditional fields like astronomy and botany, but we also offer projects in interest areas like sports science, music, photography, and cooking. In fact, the cooking area is one of the most popular areas of the Website. Science Buddies has a Topic Selection Wizard tool to help students identify an area of science that suits their interests.

2. Create Hands-On Science Projects at Home
One way to motivate kids in general is to make the task fun! There are many simple science projects that can be done at home with every-day items. Doing a science project from scratch has its benefits, since kids will identify that science skill does not come from a box or a book but from the items we see all around us. There are many easy science projects located on the Web at Science Buddies ( For example, for younger kids, we have a project that shows how to build a boat from a milk carton. Kids can learn how the shape of the hull affects how fast the boat can go, how well it glides, and how much weight it can support. For a 10-12 year old child, we have a project that teaches basic concepts about materials science such as strength to weight ratio, by building out tower out of uncooked spaghetti and ordinary white glue. We have a physics project that uses a bouncy ball and another one that uses Jell-O. There are too many to list them all!

Milk Does Your Body and a Boat Good?Design Your Own Milk Carton Boat

The Leaning Tower of Pasta

3. Make Science Part of the Family Routine
Making science part of daily family routine is as easy as discussing science news and issues at dinner in the evenings or at breakfast. Give kids a science topic and let them discuss their thoughts. Or just ask them to guess how something works, like the microwave oven or a cell phone. Other ideas include taking a trip to the Academy of Sciences, or attending science events closer to home. You can find local events at websites such as GoCityKids.org.

4. Encourage Participation in Your School's Science Fair
Science Fairs are popular in the United States. Students have to select a topic, organize a project and implement it, and then they are judged on their performance. It requires focus and dedication, and most students have a great time and have an "a-ha" moment, which is one of the joys of science education. Remember, that the more freedom kids have in choosing a topic that really intrigues them personally, the more fun they are likely to have and the more they are likely to learn.

About Science Buddies:
Science Buddies (www.sciencebuddies.org) is an award-winning website that offers a variety of programs and resources to support K-12 students in doing hands-on research projects in science, math, and engineering. With unique tools and superior content, Science Buddies has rocketed to prominence in recent years. Recommended by the American Library Association, the Parents' Choice Foundation, and the SciLinks program of the NSTA, Science Buddies serves a diverse audience of more than 9 million K-12 student and teacher visitors around the world annually.

Our mission is to help children from all walks of life build their literacy in science and technology so they can become productive and engaged citizens in the 21st century. Science Buddies provides fun, intellectually-stimulating, and cutting-edge science education tools and resources such as:

· An online library of 900+ Project Ideas, which are detailed scientist-authored outlines that help students develop a challenging science fair project

· The Topic Selection Wizard tool, to help students identify an area of science or engineering that suits their interests

· The Ask an Expert online advice forum where scientists and engineers guide students who are doing science projects

· An extensive, step-by-step Project Guide and a robust Teacher Resources area

· Career Information at the end of every Project Idea to inform students about real-world careers related to their science project (currently being implemented, to be launched at the end of 2009)


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