How can you improve your kids' science aptitude? Try bringing science into your home on a regular basis. If that sounds overwhelming, perhaps you can relate to these feelings:
- Science is intimidating. I'm 15 years past my high school or college biology course, and I don't remember anything!
- Science is frustrating. I don't know what to do when things don't work out the way the book said they would.
- Science is messy. I don't want a bunch of spills and smells and growing things in my kitchen.
- Science is expensive. I need a lot of pricey equipment to do science, and I just don't have the money in my budget.
If you're thinking those thoughts, you aren't alone! But believe it or not, doing science at home doesn't have to be difficult. This is the most important thing about doing science with your kids: don't be intimidated. Doing simple science projects with them doesn't necessarily take a lot of specialized knowledge or expertise. Science is about discovery, and there's nothing wrong with discovering along with your kids rather than having all the answers beforehand. In fact, if you try to start with a college lecture on the topic, their eyes will probably glaze over!
Instead, do hands-on projects and research the “whys” behind them together. If something doesn't work, have your kids help you think of all the variables that might have made things go awry, and if you have time, do the experiment again and control those variables.
There are lots of resources to help you choose manageable, fun projects to do with your kids:
- Free e-mail newsletters like our Science Explorations and Young Science Explorers, plus our science project archives.
- Books like 150 Captivating Chemistry Experiments or Exploratopia.
- Websites like the Exploratorium's Science Snacks or PBS's ZoomSci.
Many great projects use household items, and popular projects like growing bacteria only require inexpensive supplies like agar and petri dishes. Even a microscope, which is a great tool for inspiring your kids, doesn't have to break the bank.
And yes, sometimes science is messy! In fact, kids often have more fun when there's a little mess involved. Look at it as an opportunity to encourage your kids to take care of their equipment and clean up their “lab” like real scientists do.