It seems there is much less of a focus on science education in our K-12 schools than there should be, and our nation is clearly experiencing a shortage of scientists. Our President talks about it, the media covers it, but can we do anything about it?
Yes! As parents we can take action ourselves. We can treat our sons and daughters equally when it comes to learning math and science subjects and expose them to jobs in science from an early age. There are new careers popping up every year as technology changes. Children are naturally inquisitive, and if you provide them with hands-on learning at home, their science curiosity will soar.
Looking back as parents of a science major, who is going to start grad school in the fall to get a PhD in geophysics, we realize science was a significant part of our everyday lives and activities. These activities really helped shape our daughter’s interest in studying the earth. Here are 50 ways you can make science a part of your child’s life too:
1) Surround your child with fascinating science books, both on subjects that interest them and subjects they know little about.
2) Venture out into the great outdoors with Audubon books about local plants and animals.
3) Grow an indoor or outdoor vegetable or flower garden together and learn about species of plants, properties of the soil, proper plant nutrition and how to control insects naturally.
4) Raise monarch butterflies.
5) Buy an ant farm kit.
6) Place giant maps of the USA and the world on your walls and study far away places.
7) Lay out in the yard at night and study the stars and planets.
8) Visit science museums on a regular basis, and whenever you travel find one in that city.
9) Have your child help you care for the family pet and tag along with visits to the vet. Encourage your child to ask the vet questions.
10) Compare the sense of smell and hearing of your pet to humans.
11) Spend time at the local zoo. Ask the zookeepers detailed questions about the animals, and get a zoo membership.
12) Find ways to do your own, safe scientific experiments at home – with science kits or items from home with instructions from books.
13) Pick a famous scientist in history and learn all you can about him or her.
14) Arrange for you and your child to meet a real scientist in his or her workplace.
15) Collect seashells and research the type of creatures that once lived inside of them.
16) Track a hurricane or other storm.
17) Discover together what really happens to our garbage when the garbage man hauls it away.
18) Watch Nature, Planet Earth, Nova and other extraordinary shows on TV with your kids.
19) Challenge your child to learn about how his or her iPad, cell phone or laptop was actually made.
20) Encourage your child to enter a science fair.
21) Start a collection of rocks, minerals, fossils, shark teeth, etc. for your child.
22) Learn all there is to know about dinosaurs.
23) Buy a test kit and test your tap water to see how clean it really is.
24) Sign up for Science camps or classes outside of school.
25) Start your own Science Club at home!
26) Read an article about climate change and discuss what you’ve learned.
27) Get your child a subscription to a science magazine.
28) Take regular nature walks in your own neighborhood and try to identify birds, bugs, and plants.
29) Research drinking water shortages in different places around the world.
30) Listen to NPR.
31) Buy your child a telescope.
32) Go camping.
33) Buy some magnets and get busy experimenting with them.
34) Cook and bake with your child. Measure ingredients. Discover the science of food.
35) Read the ingredients of packaged foods and research them online.
36) Learn about the energy it takes to burn off an ice cream sundae.
37) Watch airplanes take off at your local airport.
38) Get your child a small digital camera for taking photos of the great outdoors.
39) Start a science scrapbook to include photos, drawings, brochures, ticket stubs of visits to museums and much more.
40) When you need to drive somewhere you’ve never been before, ask your child to figure out the directions and measure the distance.
41) Make your own chart of US measurements vs. metric.
42) Join the NASA Kids Club.
43) Encourage your child to learn to play a musical instrument. Music and science go hand-in-hand.
44) Research to find out how the heater or air conditioner works in your house.
45) Tour a factory.
46) Start a terrarium.
47) Buy your child a bug catching (and releasing) kit.
48) Start a collection of glass or wooden animals.
49) Ask your child to be the teacher and teach you something cool about science.