I've been meaning to start a blog for some time. It seemed like the perfect combination of lots of my interests. I like to write - although I am by no means an expert. I love science - and while I was a biology major in college and I've taught a variety of science courses at the secondary level (everything from biology to earth science, middle school science to even some physics and astronomy), I am by no means an expert at that either. And, I really love to share things I've learned - must be the teacher in me. But the whole blogging thing scared me off for a long time. Yup, definitely not an expert!
So, what finally was the tipping point? My two young daughters (ages 3 and almost 5) are both in preschool this year. So part of it is that I actually have a small block of time on my hands, at least for a bit. And, let's be honest, I'm avoiding having to clean my house. (Ha!) Seriously though, I love teaching science and I miss the intellectual stimulation and creativity that comes along with it. I constantly "see" the science in everyday things and try to share it with my kids whenever possible. And, I also figure that creating a blog would give me a more structured environment where I can share some interesting and easy science things to do with kids on a regular basis.
Many early childhood programs tend to focus on observations as the main part of their science curriculum. Don't get me wrong; strong observational skills are absolutely the foundation of science and observations themselves are the first vital step in the process of science. Science includes so much more, though! Observations can lead us to the questions about the world that we want answered and that is the true process of science. Kids are naturally little scientists! "Momma, why is the sky blue?" "What will happen if I mix my milk, applesauce and toast together?" "How can I make my matchbox car go faster than his matchbox car?" These questions lead kids to making educated guesses (inferences), measuring, classifying or sorting, predicting what they think will happen, conducting experiments and finally communicating what they have discovered. All of these skills taken together are considered the basic science process skills and my aim is to incorporate many of them into each of our activities. (Read more about science process skills at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching website. For more in depth coverage of science process and inquiry skills adopted in the 1996 National Science Education Standards you can go here for a free pdf.)
Of course, not every child will become a scientist when they grow up and I have no intention of molding my girls into one necessarily. (At this point, my older one exhibits way more drama than could ever fly in a science lab (I blame my actress sister) and my younger one has definite engineer tendencies - if she doesn't become a fashionista first.) However, the skills that are developed from a strong science mind extend so much farther including developing strong analytical minds and creativity. The television and periodicals constantly announce that our students as a whole are less able to think outside the box or problem solve than those of a generation ago and the current state of "teaching to the test" isn't helping in that arena. Besides, science is a fun way to reinforce skills in other areas such as math and language arts!
Okay, enough of my personal philosophy, let's get to the fun stuff! We'll do a weekly science and nature activity. Along the way, we'll probably try our hand at experimenting with other things like crafts and cooking. After all, what is parenthood but one large, hopefully well-designed, experiment?