Spring is here! And aside from beach trips, April showers, and warmer weather, this season is ripe with opportunities for science learning. Spring offers so many opportunities for students to see science in action. The change in seasons gives kids a chance to understand the relationship between the time of year and the positions of the Earth, sun and moon. Plus, longer days offer more time to spend on fun, exploratory, outdoor projects and activities that help kids make deeper connections to the world around them.
In other words, now is the perfect time to get your kids excited about science. As K12’s Stephanie Hoaglund writes in a blog post about the importance of STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) education, children “are born natural problem-solvers, acting as mini-scientists – tasting, touching, building, and experimenting, as they explore the world around them.”
However, we know that kids don't always stay enthused about science. The good news is, science doesn't have to be a snore! Here are some ideas to get you started for a spring filled with science:
Sow some seeds. Spring means seeds! And exploring plant life cycles and different kinds of seeds is an important part of early science learning for kid. Go on a Seed Scavenger Hunt with your child or plant an Indoor Seed Sponge and watch the magic happen at home! This is an opportunity for kids to learn about the growth cycle of a plant, from infancy to adulthood, and it's a great way to bring science to life right in front of your kid's eyes. The best part is, you'll get a chance to get outdoors and appreciate the plant life that's popping up all around us this season.
Track the Earth. K12’s award-winning online curriculum offers a great activity for young astronomers. You'll need a stick that stands up straight over a flat surface—for example, a pencil stuck through a piece of paper and sticking straight up in the air. Gather an 8 x 12 inch wooden board, a watch, lined paper, a pencil, pen or dowel to be used as a straight stick, a directional compass, and a ruler (metric and English scales). You may want to pre-drill holes in the board to make inserting the pencil for the shadow stick easier. Assemble the shadow stick by securing the pencil on the board or use modeling clay to support the pencil. Attach the paper next to the pencil (you will mark the paper to track the shadow as time elapses). Use the compass to locate north. Take measurements of the Earth’s movement over a 30-minute span and mark your paper every 5 minutes. Don't forget to record your data on a sheet of paper. Now you're tracking the earth's movement!
See science in action. It's easier to inspire scientific curiousity in your kids than you may realize. Seeing "science in action" through hands-on activities allows kids to witness the magic of scientific processes right before their very eyes. What's more, with simple experiments that make complex concepts easy to digest, kids won't feel intimidated by science. You'll be making scientific learning more accessible and enjoyable for your kids. Here's a great round-up of simple experiments that bring science to life. Science in Action: 8 Fun Activites will help your child learn why the sky is blue and where wind comes from, just to name a few things!
Tap into technology. Spending time on a computer doesn’t have to be a bad thing for your kids. There are many resources for educational activities that enrich young minds. For example, K12's animated activity that explains how to identify rocks, allows kids and parents to start the fun on the computer and then go out “in the field” and find rocks themselves to identify. Shapes, texture, color and size are all clues to how they might have been formed and their place in the Earth’s makeup.
Whether it's making rainbows in your back yard, tracking the earth's movement from your own home, growing a seed sponge, or any number of fun science activities at your fingertips, the bottom line is keeping the activities hands-on and straightforward will make science a blast for kids. So take advantage of everything this season has to offer and instill a lasting love of science in your kids.
Deanna Glick is a senior writer for K12. She has nearly two decades of experience as a journalist covering many topics, including education, youth and family issues. Deanna has also served as a volunteer and staff member for children's school-based nonprofit organizations. For more information about K12's tuition-free, online public schools in 32 states and D.C., plus its three private schools, please visit the K12 website.