‘Resources’ Category

Toys to Encourage a Child’s Love for Science

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Science toys

When you are buying toys for your children for the holidays or for birthdays, you should consider educational toys that promote a better understanding of science. The world needs more scientists, so a parent can stimulate a child’s interest in a variety of sciences, and these are some of the best toys for helping your child learn.

Toy 1: Telescopes that work with Computer Screens

Telescopes that work with computer screens are one of the newest ways for children to look at the stars and planets. This type of telescope connects to a computer’s USB port, and it has a digital camera that records the images in the sky so that your child can see the constellations and planets on her computer screen. It is possible to change the power of the telescope to see images that are farther away.

2: Geodes that Your Child can Break Open

If you want to encourage an interest in geology, then you can order geodes from online companies. A geode kit will have tools to help with opening the geode so that a child can see the minerals that line the cavity of the item. The crystals will have interesting colors or shapes that your child can learn more about with an internet search.

3: Simple Machine Kits for a Variety of Ages

You can find an assortment of simple machine kits for children of different ages. There are simple machine toys for toddlers, and these items may have brightly colored blocks or other shapes that a child can manipulate with her hands. As your child gets older, you can find complex simple machine toys that are made by the Lego Group Company or by K’NEX Industries Inc.

4: Human or Animal Anatomy Kits

When you want your child to learn about the anatomy of animals or humans, you can buy kits that contain plastic parts that represent bones and organs. These types of kits can teach your child about the bodies of humans and animals to encourage her to explore a career in a medical field such as registered nursing or veterinary science.

5: Engineering Laboratory Kits

If you have a child who is fascinating with robots, then consider an engineering laboratory kit that focuses on the science of robotics. Robots are the newest trends for transportation, manufacturing and health care, so this is a field of science that offers a career future for your child.

6: Kits that Contain Moth or Butterfly Cocoons

Scientists are still learning new information about insects, so you can encourage an interest in entomology. You can order kits online that contain butterfly or moth cocoons so that your child can observe how the insects develop in the cocoons and exits from the cocoons. This kit will contain a notebook so that your child can write down his scientific observations in the same way that a real entomologist does.

7: Matching and Number Toys

Matching and number toys such as cards with pictures, colors and numbers are one of the easiest types of scientific kits to find in local and online stores. These types of scientific toys will increase your child’s brain development while teaching her about logistics. A set of cards with numbers or images is appropriate for taking with you to other locations so that your child has something to play with.

8: Primary or Chemistry Laboratory Kits

You may have had a primary or chemistry laboratory kit as a child, and these are still valuable for learning about STEM topics that include science, technology, engineering and math so that your child will excel in school.

Talk to Your Child about What He or She Wants

Before buying toys for your child, talk to them about their interests in scientific topics, or alternatively, you can learn more about what she is studying in school to augment her education.

If you’re looking for additional ways to encourage your child’s love for science check out Science Explorer’s summer science camps and after-school clubs.

 

Annie Grace Wilson is a Public Relations Specialist for The STEM Store. She regularly produces content for a variety of blogs that cover topics on STEM toys and fun educational material

Think Like a Scientist: Teaching the Scientific Method to Kids

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

If you’re wondering how to teach kids to think like a scientist, the solution is pretty simple — teach them the scientific method. While that may seem easy on the surface, introducing the scientific method for kids in a way that will make the scientific method stick in their minds is often challenging.

Merriam-Webster defines the scientific method as follows:

“Principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

While that may make sense to scientists and many adults, some children may be confused by the definition, or they may not be able to recall all of the steps involved in the scientific method. Although some kids may be a bit overwhelmed by the scientific method, they still have to learn what it is and how it can be applied in scientific settings as well as the real world.

It’s vital for kids to have a practical knowledge of the scientific method because it’s the foundation of all scientific discoveries and science classes. It’s also the standard for how professional scientists conduct their research and resolve problems. Just as importantly, the scientific method enables students to solve problems on their own and understand their surroundings better.

Teaching the Scientific Method

One of the smartest things you can do to help kids remember the scientific method is to make a visual that breaks it down into a series of steps that are easy to recall. Here are the steps that make up the scientific method expressed in basic terms children should be able to understand:

  • Purpose: The question that needs to be answered or a problem that has to be resolved.
  • Research: Observing and collecting evidence in an attempt to address the purpose of an experiment.
  • Hypothesis: The best guess for how your question will be answered or your problem will be solved.
  • Experiment: The test of your hypothesis.
  • Analysis: The evaluation of the information you recorded during your experiment.
  • Conclusion: Your final response to your purpose, meaning this is the answer to your question or the resolution for your problem.

While breaking the methodology into individual steps makes it easier for kids to remember, it may not be enough for some students to remember the scientific method. If that’s the case, you may have to take things a bit further. One of the easy ways to teach the scientific method is to use a mnemonic trick to make the steps easy to recall.

Try making a sentence out of words that begin with the letters representing each step in the scientific method. It’s okay if your sentence is silly or lacks real sense. In fact, that might make it even easier for kids to remember.

Here’s an example of a sentence you may want to use:

Peter Right Has Excellent Apple Cakes.

Fun Scientific Method Activities

One of the most effective ways you can reinforce your verbal and visual explanations of the scientific method is to get the kids involved in some fun scientific method activities. Here are a few that will help reinforce what the scientific method is:

  • Use Tactile Boxes: If you have some shoe boxes lying around, you can make them into tactile boxes. Simply cut a hole in one end that’s big enough for a hand to fit through, put an item or two in the box and secure the lid. Have the kids put their hand in the box and ask them what they think it contains. Better yet, have them draw what they think is in there and write a description of it.
  • Plant Gardens: You can plant a garden to see if plants grow better with full or partial sunlight. Plant one garden in direct sunlight and a similar garden in an area that only gets partial sunlight throughout the day. Have your kids observe the gardens as the plants grow and keep a record of their observations. At the end of the growing season, the children can analyze their observations and draw conclusions about their gardening experiment.
  • Card Game: You can create a card game your kids can play individually or together. Make a card for each step in the scientific process that has both a picture and a written description of the step. Then, have the kids put the cards in the proper sequence to complete the scientific method. To make it even more challenging, you can use the steps as they relate to an actual experiment, and then have the kids put them in the right order for a real-life application.

The scientific method is just one of the many things your kids will learn about when they attend one of our summer camps or after-school clubs. We proudly offer these to children ages 4 – 11 across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia. Contact Science Explorers to learn more about our programs today.

15 Fun Science Books for Kids

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

 

Whether you’re introducing your child to science for the first time or hoping to give them a renewed interest in the subject, books play an essential role. If the science books you choose don’t hold their attention, they won’t be interested. If you choose fun science books, there’s a good chance they’ll become curious and anxious to learn more. What makes a science book fun? We’ve picked 15 of our favorites in the list below.

It’s important to remember that what is fun for some kids may not be fun for all. We’ve tried to give thorough descriptions of each book, so you can decide which will be the most fun for your child. Our overall advice is to try to choose a science book that includes something they’re already interested in, such as animals or the human body. If this will be the first time your children are exposed to science literature, consider a few books in different areas to see which they enjoy the most.

The following 15 books are a great way to expose your child to science!

1. “Animalium: Welcome to the Museum” by Jenny Broom (Author) Katie Scott (Illustrator) ─ Ages 8-12

Imagine yourself walking through the Museum of Natural History, looking at all of the exhibits and images on the walls that bring animals to life. This is all of that in an oversized (11”x15”) book. Page through more than 200 full-color images, with descriptive educational text, presenting the animal kingdom in detail. It’s enough to pique your child’s curiosity without overwhelming. It’s recommended for ages 8 to 12, but we’re confident it would be a great purchase for younger children, too. The animal illustrations will keep their interest at any age.

 

2. “The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book” by Tom Robinson ─ Ages 7-12

This book is perfect for hands-on children. The book itself is great, but the real treasures are the kid-tested science experiments waiting for you to recreate. Grab a few things around the house and get to work creating your own experiments. Reveal whether or not you can blow up a balloon without actually blowing into it, if you can turn off a magnet, or if toilets always flush in the same direction. The experiments may seem basic, but they are the perfect way to introduce your child to the basics of biology, chemistry, physics and outer space. “The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book” is great tool to keep your hands-on child entertained while learning.

3. “Infographics: Human Body” by Simon Rogers (Author) and Peter Grundy (Illustrator) ─ Ages 6-9

When you think about what makes infographics so great — complex information in bite-size, visual pieces — you realize they are perfect for kids. This book combines the infographic structure with bright, bold colors to uncover the mysteries of the human body. In one illustration, the body is shown as a factory. While the design itself captures the attention of kids of all ages, the easily digestible data throughout the book make it perfect for introducing your child to the human body and how it works. If animals or space are of greater interest to your student, consider the animal kingdom and space infographic books instead.

4. “Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space” by Dominic Walliman (Author) and Ben Newman (Illustrator) ─ Ages 8-11

You can’t go wrong with a cat in a retro, yet futuristic space suit. Professor Astro Cat and his assistant, Astro Mouse, lead the way through a conversational and humorous adventure to learn about space. This book covers it all — gravity, extraterrestrial life, time. Whether your child seems to have an interest in space or simply likes cats, they will love Professor Astro Cat and his educational space adventure. Fortunately, Professor Astro Cat also has “Atomic Adventure” and “Intergalactic Activity Book” for children who want more to explore.

 

5. “The Worm” by Elise Gravel ─ Ages 6-9

This book focuses completely on the worm. While the caricature-like cartoon illustrations seem to bring the worm to life, it’s the pithy commentary from the worm itself that really makes it fun. The commentary is balanced with facts about every aspect of a worm, leaving you and your child knowing more about a worm than you ever thought you would — and thoroughly entertained. If this becomes one of your child’s favorites, there are many more to choose from, such as “The Toad” and “The Fly.”

6. “Things That Float and Things That Don’t” by David A. Adler (Author) and Anna Raff (Illustrator) ─ Ages 4-8

Introducing your young child to physics may seem crazy, but this book makes it engaging and possible. It starts with a simple question: Why do some things float, and others don’t? In this well-illustrated book, a boy, a girl and their dog embark on an exciting adventure to discover what will float and what won’t. It introduces young readers to the concept of density, with plenty of opportunities for activities you can do to bring the concept to life at home. Something as simple as aluminum foil in two forms — a loosely crumpled up ball and a tightly packed ball — in a sink or tub full of water lets your child explore the concept. The basic explanation of density is great, but the illustrations and demonstrations put this one on our list.

 

7. “Me…Jane” by Patrick McDonnell ─ Ages 1-7

This book tells the story of a young Dr. Jane Goodall — renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist and United Nationals Messenger of Peace — and her toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. The book explores Goodall’s childhood fantasies, but it also incorporates educational information about chimpanzees and other animals. Perhaps the most important part of the book is learning about the connection between Goodall’s childhood dream of helping animals and her reality. Children can relate to the story about her childhood toy, but also have room to grow as they learn more about her impact on the animal kingdom.

 

8. “How Does the Wind Blow?” by Lawrence F. Lowery ─ Ages 5-8

Relating to something children come in contact with on their own, this book explores the wind — everything from gentle breezes moving a flag to the powerful tornados that can move cars and houses. They’ll learn how wind can intensify and be measured. Each book includes coordinating home activities to show children a few basic concepts in action in their very own backyard. This book is one of many in the “I Wonder Why” series. If your child responds well to this one, consider searching for the rest of the books in the series to continue engaging them in some of the basics of geology, land forms, weather, environments and other phenomena related to science and nature.

 

9. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle ─ Ages 2-5

This classic book is the perfect simple introduction to animals. You may remember it for its poetic and repetitive nature — two bonus characteristics for a child learn to talk. The pages also introduce young children to some of the most common animals. The boldly colored images will catch your little one’s attention as you read each of the different animals. Begin with the brown bear, and move on to a purple cat, blue horse, yellow duck and more. The fun illustrations and poetic text is sure to become a fun learning experience for you and your young child.

 

10. “Big Questions from Little People: And Simple Answers from Great Minds” by Gemma Elwin Harris ─ Ages 8-12

Perhaps this book has more of a focus on preparing you, as a parent, to engage and encourage your curious children when they have questions about science you aren’t quite sure how to answer. This book is a collection of real questions from real children — questions that have stumped adults. Use it to pique your child’s curiosity. The answers Harris provides are stated by a notable group of scientists, specialists, philosophers and writers. In addition to featuring answers from top experts, such as adventurist Bear Gryllis, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Chef Gordon Ramsay, well-known comedians, columnists and raconteurs have also provided hilarious alternative answers. This one is sure to be as entertaining for you as it is for your children.

11. “On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein” by Jennifer Berne ─ Ages 6-9

This book is great for exploring some of the basics of atoms and light, but it also comes with an inspirational twist. Exploring Albert Einstein’s life, it takes a different path to learning science, as it includes some biographical information, including his notable accomplishments. In a simple way, accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations, children learn about how he was different and how he thought about light and numbers in a different way. Connecting this to his invention is meant to encourage children to be curious, ask questions and explore — as there are many questions left to be answered. Maybe your child will be inspired to pick up where Einstein left off.

 

12. “Actual Size” by Steve Jenkins ─ Ages 6-9

Learning facts is an important part of educating children, and Steve Jenkins helps children put it in perspective. This book focuses on showing children how big — and small — animals are. Each spread includes a new animal or two along with a few facts and physical dimensions. When possible, Jenkins shows parts of animals to scale — a moth with a 12-inch wingspan and the eye of a giant squid that takes up a full spread. When it isn’t possible to show to scale, he provides specific information on size, so you can put it into perspective for your child. Many other books present the facts, but this one brings them to life unlike any other.

 

13. “Everything Rocks and Minerals” by Steve Tomecek ─ Ages 8-12

Bright, colorful photos introduce your child to different types of rocks and minerals. It’s light on text — only giving the basics about where many rocks and minerals can be found and how they form. Fun facts make it a light read — nothing too complex or heavy. National Geographic provides the basics in a fun, colorful way to give your child a new appreciation and curiosity for different types of rocks and minerals. Parents might also learn something in the process.

 

14. “Gardening Lab for Kids” by Renata Fossen Brown ─ Ages 5-12

Many books are great for reading on a rainy day, but this one encourages children to get outside and enjoy nature. Packed with 52 plant-related activities, it will keep you and your child busy. The activities are gathered into weekly lessons and can be used individually as time allows. You’ll cover everything from the basics of botany, ecology, seasons, food, insects, eating and cooking. Work with your child to create a terrarium, fairy garden and even a mini garden. Children will learn to appreciate their surroundings, regardless of where they live, and have a new appreciation for the plants in their backyard.

15. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle ─ Ages 1-3

This all-time classic children’s book may not be thought of as a science book, but it’s the perfect introduction to the science of caterpillars for young children. Follow the story of a brightly colored caterpillar who loves to eat. Watch as he hatches from an egg and eats his way through everything from an apple to a cherry pie. Once he’s too full to eat any more, he makes himself a cocoon, goes to sleep and wakes up a beautiful butterfly. The bright illustrations and simple text make it perfect for reading to a young child. It may begin as merely entertainment, but over time your child will learn the most simple version of a caterpillar’s lifecycle.

We hope that you’ve found the above list to be a helpful resource as you consider ways to get your child interested in science. At Science Explorers, we aim to demystify, inspire and explore the world of science with hands-on activities. To further engage your child in the wonders of science, consider summer camps, after-school clubs, field trips and other fun activities. We proudly offer these to children across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland!