Friday, October 22, 2010

Kindergarden science - Biology

My young daughter has reached 4 years old and I have decided its time to get her started with some basic science. Everyone knows about the classic carrot-top in a dish experiment. So here is the recipe for it;

Stage0) Adult basics.
  • Young kids learn alot by mimicry
    • How you act and react will directly teach them. More than what you say about it
    • They will learn good scientific procedure if you show them it rather than tell them it
  • Young kids have an very short attention span about 15mins max.
    • Experiments need to have simple easy to understand objectives
    • You must prep the materials before hand or the child might wander off or lose interest before its ready.
    • Experiments need to be piece wise if they are long, take a break if its too long and rekindle your kids interest
    • Experiments need to have a fascinating or intriguing result.
    • Sometimes things go wrong or you get stuck it is best to get the kid of on a side project while you sort it out or risk them becoming confused and frustrated as you do.
  • You dont want kids handling dangerous stuff, but you want the child to learn enough practical caution
    • For example using scissors is ok, but using them badly or in a way not intended will teach your kid to do the same.
    • With chemistry experiments think food science, if it cant be eaten or goes boom then its most likely not suitable for a young kid.

Stage 1) Create some interest (And adult prep)
Take a carrot, and cut of the top(about 1 cm thick) and take it to your kid. Ask her what it is what she thinks about it. Ask her where it came from and how it grew up to be a carrot. Explain to her the that the carrot is still alive even now and we can make it grew again. Ask her if she believes it. Ask her if she wants to see it happen.

Stage 2) Prep the experiment(done by your kid)
Gather the materials, A plastic container, cup of water, the carrot top, and a piece of paper(the less the bleach and artificial coloring the better)

Stage 3) Experiment(done by the child)
Place the paper in the container, add the carrot on top, poor on the water(about 1/3 of the carrot should be underwater) and place near a sunny window. Go play elsewhere

Stage 4) Measure and discuss(done by the child)
Come back every day with a log book, ruler and pencil. Ask her about what has changed and measure how long the new green sprouts and roots are. Write it down in the log book. Then after a week create a graph and play connect the dots with her.

Stage 5) End the Experiment(done by the child)
After a while this will start to get monotonous and the fascination will end, it is best not to kill your kids enthusiasm by over doing it. My daughter choose to end this experiment by feeding the new carrot sprouts to a rabbit.

To sum it up you have exposed your child to;
  • Basic experimental procedure
  • Measurement and logging of results
  • Basic charting
  • Basic biology; What are Roots, What are Leaves, What are Stems
  • Basic biology; Planets grow slowly and fresh veggies are alive

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