If you’ve listened to the news lately, you know there’s been a serious decline in college students studying and graduating in what we refer to as the ‘science’ fields. In some universities whole chemistry programs are being discontinued because the schools can’t find professionals to staff the programs. This is a huge concern for all of us, because it’s scientists who keep our technologies moving ahead, who invent products or processes that improve our lives and who open up doors of knowledge for the general population.
Grassroots efforts are being organized by political and educational groups alike to reignite the fire of interest in science among our elementary and high school aged children. But, easily the most influential place for young people to develop an interest and love for the sciences is within the walls of their own homes.
As a parent there is much we can do to make our homes science friendly and encourage a sense of curiosity and adventure in our children for the world in which they live. In the process many moms and dads find their own interest in the sciences rekindled. When science is introduced as a fun way to figure out why things happen the way they do, it is naturally attractive to kids.
The following are a few things you can do to make your home a science friendly environment.
- Explore and experiment with your child. If mom or dad thinks an activity is fun, a child is more likely to enjoy it as well. Let the child lead the way when it comes to learning, and use questions and discussions to bring out points they might have missed.
- Check out local science related attractions such as zoos, planetariums, aquariums and children’s science museums, then visit and explore these places together.
- Gather and keep science tools in your home and allow your children to use them.
- Things like empty soda bottles, rubber bands, straws and balloons, when combined with some of the normal cooking and baking supplies in your cupboard can provide great learning experiences in chemical reactions and physics. But, be prepared to get a little messy. Great learning requires getting your hands dirty sometimes.
- Books, whether from the library or purchased yourself, can be a great boon to developing scientists. Whether you’re trying to identify the trees in your backyard, create a pop-bottle volcano or learn why a group of swallows chooses to nest in an abandoned barn, books can be a great source of information and a jumping off point for more exploration.
- When getting a close up look at something small or faraway, a set of binoculars, a hand held magnifying glass and a microscope are worth their weight in gold. They expand the visual horizons allowing children to explore worlds beyond their natural reach. A good set of binoculars is great for learning about astronomy and biology, while a microscope brings a new perspective to everyday items like flower petals and pond water.
- When using binoculars for outdoor study or if you’re spending lots of time analyzing microscopic organisms, consider purchasing EyeShields from Field Optics. EyeShields are made of soft pliable plastic and attach to the eye piece of a microscope, or binoculars to make the viewing experience more comfortable. Young children may find it hard to focus their eyes while looking through binoculars or the eye piece of a microscope. Ambient lighting can create glare, and dust and dirt can irritate young eyes. In expensive EyeShields protect the viewer from all these annoyances while making the whole experience more comfortable.
When parents are able to spark an interest in science within their children, they open up possibilities and opportunities in their future that might not have been there otherwise.