Did you know that children are natural scientists? Think about a baby or toddler trying the same thing over and over in new ways until they figure out how to accomplish something. Does it work this way or that way? Adults can encourage or discourage a child’s sense of wonder by inviting children to predict and figure things out through trial and error. As it turns out, children think a lot more logically than most adults realize. Check out this article from wired.com which tells about an experiment that shows children’s ability to think like scientists. Adults can also model a continuing interest in why things work the way they do in our daily lives. You might say, “I wonder why the cake didn’t cook the same way as grandpa’s cake…” instead of “the cake is saggy in the middle because the air pressure is different here than at grandpa’s.” Or “Did you notice what kind of birds visit Aunt Mary’s bird feeder? I wonder why she doesn’t have many cardinals.” By inviting children to play, observe, experiment, and figure things out on their own, you help them become better scientists!
Here at the Greensboro Children’s Museum, we are gearing up to participate in the second North Carolina Science Festival in April. Since the festival is in the spring, I want to be sure to highlight my favorite spring events…planting a garden and hatching baby chicks. Of course when I think about baby chicks, I think about eggs, and when I think about eggs, I think about meringues and quiches. So I let my mind wonder and dream about the fun “eggs”periments we can do as part of the NC Science Festival. Since our biggest audience is families and school groups, we are planning fun science activities that can involve children of all ages. While we make our plans, here is an idea that you can try at home: Hard boil an egg and don’t peel it! Spin it on a table…now take a raw egg and spin it beside the hard-boiled egg. Which one spins faster? Which one spins longer? I wonder why!