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Exploring science

Raising science literate children

Once again, the U.S. finds itself with too few graduates entering the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. While educators and guidance counselors are busy trying to funnel upcoming graduates into this field of study, those of us in early childhood education need to be doing our part. Too often we focus on reading to the detriment of all other subjects. Yet science, the basis of all STEM fields, is overlooked. Funny enough, science is also one of the best ways to engage young learners!

Young kids don't need an in depth grasp of the mechanics behind science to learn something. During the preschool and early elementary years, it's most important to get them comfortable with the 'doing' of science while driving home the point that science is fun!

I like to spark that love of science then use it to strengthen lessons in other subjects. If a child loves to experiment but has trouble with handwriting, why not assign simple “lab books,” a.k.a. science journals, for the student to write their findings in after each experiment? Simple math activities go hand in hand with many science topics, such as counting bugs on a nature walk or measuring leaves and recording the findings in the lab book.

As science becomes more difficult in later grades, the kids already have a strong base in the subject and it doesn't seem as intimidating. Since the kids already associate science with fun, they are more likely to enjoy an upper level science class. In early education, science isn't only for once a week; it should be a daily subject.