Engaging Children in the Sciences

Schooling has advanced dramatically since we were younger, access to technology has increased, and children are exposed to more than we ever were during our youth – but is that enough?
Do you remember when your child was young, or are you going through it at the moment?
Why is the sky blue?
What causes volcanoes?
What causes earthquakes?
Does water flow the other way in Australia?
Where does rain come from?
These are not questions to shrug off but rather ideal learning opportunities, if you grab these questions and turn to science and science toys to answer them, you start to instill a lifelong love of the sciences within your children. Teaching science starts at home before your children even get to school, teaching science at home can enhance their learning experiences at school and can be fun. You may wonder how this can help or assist your children when they leave school and go to college, university or seek work, but it can.
Science teaches logical and creative thinking, science teaches problem solving and all sciences teach us not accept the status quo, that there is more out there to discover and invent than we already know. And that is what we want to leave our children with, an ability to think beyond what they presently know and not just research the known on Google or the internet. We need to provide our children with access to inspiring, educational tools and they do not need to be expensive or complicated, even time in front of the BBQ can be used to inspire and amaze.
Next time you are in front of a fire or BBQ, grab a handful of various household chemicals and products (see the list below) and amaze your children with a spectacular display of magic and fun that a little knowledge of science can bring. Just throwing the right substances in the flames can create beautiful colours and effects, there are many other colours that can be achieved and if you do some research on the internet you will get a more complete listing:
Orange Flames – Calcium Chloride (bleaching powder)
Yellow Flames – Table Salt
Yellowish Green Flames – Borax
Blue Flames – Copper Chloride
Sparkles – Iron Filings
White Flames – Epsom salts
How about showing off your chemistry knowledge the next time you are your children are inside on a rainy day. A simple volcano effect can be achieved with baking soda and white vinegar – I will leave it up to you and your child to experiment with the ratios to get the best effects (also consider adding red food colouring).
There are many resources and toys to inspire and teach, don’t hesitate grab this opportunity while they are still young and curious.