KS Logo here

Helping Your Child Learn Science



Credits



Source

U.S. Department of Education


Contents

Foreword

Introduction

The Basics

Important Things To Learn

Activities at Home

Activities in the Community

Appendices
Acknowledgments


Forums

Education and Kids


Related Articles

Learning Partners: Let's Do Science!

Doing Science With Your Child

Teaching K-6 Science in Small Schools on a Financial Shoestring



Foreword

This book provides examples of a few simple activities we can do with our children. It is an introduction to the wealth of material in many other books available in libraries and bookstores. It might also inspire us to make up our own experiments to see why and how things turn out the way they do.

Science is not something mysterious. Being "scientific" involves being curious, observing, asking how things happen, and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need help understanding how to make sense of what they see.

Parents help their children learn--by reading to and with them, by helping them learn to count and calculate, by helping them begin to write, and in many other ways.

Most parents, though, say they do not--or cannot--help their children with science. But we don't need degrees in chemistry or physics to help our children. All we need is a willingness to observe and learn with them, and, above all, to make an effort and take the time to nurture their natural curiosity.

Achieving a higher degree of skill in science and math is one of the national education goals. AMERICA 2000, the long-term national education strategy designed to accomplish these goals, and which was announced by President Bush on April 18 of this year, points out how important our role as parents is:

Most of all, it will take America's parents--in their schools, their communities, their homes--as helpers, as examples, as leaders, as demanding shareholders of our schools to make the AMERICA 2000 education strategy work--to make this land all it should be.

AMERICA 2000 reminds us that "For schools to succeed, we must look beyond their classrooms to our communities and families."

We can use this book to have fun with our children while they learn. Whether we're baking a cake, filling the bathtub, or walking through the park, we can invite our children into the wonders of science. Often when we least expect it, a moment for learning will occur: a dollop of ice cream drops on the sidewalk and ants appear.

Our national education goals made becoming literate in science important for all Americans. The President and the Governors have set these challenging goals, and it is up to all of us to do our best to help our children learn what they will need to know in order to live and work in today's world and in the next century. As always, starting early is important--and perhaps never more so than with science.

As U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander has said, "There are new World Class Standards in math, in science, in history, in geography, and in English that we must meet today, standards that were not necessary to meet even 10 or 20 years ago."

So, let's get started by finding an activity in this book and trying it.

Bruno V. Manno
Acting Assistant Secretary
Office of Educational Research and Improvement

Back to the Table of Contents


Introduction

Why is the sky blue?
Why do things fall to the ground?
How do seeds grow?
What makes sound and music?
Where do mountains come from?

Young children ask their parents hundreds of questions like these. In search of answers, we use science to both enlighten and delight.

As parents, we must prepare our children for a world vastly different from the one in which we grew up. In the next century, this country will need citizens with more training in science and technology than most of us had in school.

Even children who don't want to be scientists, engineers, or com- puter technicians will need science to cope with their rapidly changing environment. But without our help, our children will not be prepared for these changes.

This book suggests ways you can interest your children from about 3 to 10 years old in science. It includes:

  • Some basic information about science;

  • A sampling of activities for children to do --some alone, some with supervision--in both the home and the community; and

  • An Appendex with practical tips on how to encourage schools to develop good science programs, a brief description of nine scientific concepts, and a list of recommended science books and magazines.

Many of the activities cost little or nothing and require no special equipment.

Science Starts at Home

We play a crucial role in determining how much science our children learn. Our enthusiasm and encouragement can spark their interest. Fortunately, youngsters of all ages are curious and love to investigate. And the earlier we encourage this curiosity, the better.

Scientific knowledge is cumulative, so children need to start learning early--at home. Many of us assume that children will learn all the science they need at school. The fact is that most children, particularly in elementary school, are taught very little science.

How You Can Help

As parents, we don't have to have a strong background in science to help our children learn science. What's far more important than knowing what sound is or how a telescope works, is having a positive attitude about science.

Every day is filled with opportunities to learn science--without expensive chemistry sets or books. Children can easily be introduced to the natural world and encouraged to observe what goes on around them.

Together, parents and children can--

  • See how long it takes for a dandelion or a rose to burst into full bloom; or

  • Watch the moon as it appears to change shape over the course of a month, and record the changes; or

  • Watch a kitten grow into a cat.

  • Bake a cake;

  • Guess why one of your plants is drooping; or

  • Figure out how the spin cycle of the washing machine gets the water out of the clothes.

Learning to observe objects carefully is an important step leading to scientific explanations. Experiencing the world together and exchanging information about what we see are important, too.

A nasty head cold can even be turned into a chance to learn science. We can point out that there is no known cure for a cold, but that we do know how diseases are passed from person to person. Or we can teach some ways to stay healthy--such as washing our hands, not sharing forks, spoons, or glasses, and covering our nose and mouth when we sneeze or cough.

Questioning and Listening

We should encourage our children to ask questions. A friend once asked Isidor I. Rabi, a Nobel prize winner in physics, "Why did you become a scientist, rather than a doctor or lawyer or businessman, like the other immigrant kids in your neighborhood?" Rabi responded:

My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: "So? Did you learn anything today?" But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. "Izzy," she would say, "did you ask a good question today?" That difference--asking good questions-- made me become a scientist!

If we can't answer all of our children's questions, that's all right-- no one has all the answers, even scientists. And children don't need lengthy, detailed answers to all of their questions. We can propose answers, test them out, and check them with someone else. The library, or even the dictionary, can help answer questions.

We can also encourage our children to tell us their ideas and listen to their explanations. Being listened to will help them to gain confidence in their thinking and to develop their skills and interest in science. Listening helps us to determine just what children know and don't know. (It also helps the child figure out what he or she knows.)

Simple activities can help to demystify science--and we will suggest some of these later. But children also need to learn some basic information about science and about how to think scientifically. The following section contains information for parents that can point our children toward this goal.

Back to the Table of Contents


The Basics

What Is Science?

Science is not just a collection of facts. Facts are a part of science. We all need to know some basic scientific information: water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 degrees celsius), and the earth moves around the sun. But science is much more. It includes:

  • Observing what's happening;
  • Predicting what might happen;
  • Testing predictions under controlled conditions to see if they are correct; and
  • Trying to make sense of our observations.

Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov describes science as "a way of thinking," a way to look at the world.

Science also involves trial and error--trying, failing, and trying again. Science does not provide all the answers. It requires us to be skeptical so that our scientific "conclusions" can be modified or changed altogether as we make new discoveries.

Children Have Their Own Ideas

Children develop their own ideas about the physical world, ideas that reflect their special perspectives. Below are some perceptions from some sixth grade students:

"Fossils are bones that animals are through wearing."

"Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun, but I have never been able to make out the numbers."

"Gravity is stronger on the earth than on the moon because here on earth we have a bigger mess."

"A blizzard is when it snows sideways."

Children's experiences help them form their ideas, and these often don't match current scientific interpretations. We need to allow our children to ask questions and make mistakes without feeling "stupid."

We can help our children look at things in new ways. For instance, in regard to the blizzard, we could ask: "Have you ever seen it snow sideways? What do you think causes it to move sideways sometimes?"

Hands-On Works Best

Children, especially younger ones, learn science best and understand scientific ideas better if they are able to investigate and experiment. Hands-on science can also help children think critically and gain confidence in their own ability to solve problems. Some science teachers have explained it this way:

What engages very young children? Things they can see, touch, manipulate, modify; situations that allow them to figure out what happens--in short, events and puzzles that they can investigate, which is the very stuff of science.

But, hands-on science can be messy and time consuming. So, before you get started, see what is involved in an activity--including how long it will take.

Less Is More It's tempting to try to teach our children just a little about many different subjects. While youngsters can't possibly learn everything about science, they do need and will want to learn many facts. But the best way to help them learn to think scientifically is to introduce them to just a few topics in depth.

Finding the Right Activity for Your Child

Different children have different interests and need different science projects. A sand and rock collection that was a big hit with an 8-year- old daughter may not be a big hit with a 6-year-old son.

Fortunately, all types of children can find plenty of projects that are fun. If your child loves to cook, let him or her observe how sugar melts into caramel syrup or how vinegar curdles milk.

Knowing our children is the best way to find suitable activities. Here are some tips:

  • Encourage activities that are neither too hard nor too easy. If in doubt, err on the easy side since something too difficult may give the idea that science itself is too hard.

  • Age suggestions on book jackets or toy containers are just that-- suggestions. They may not reflect the interest or ability of your child. A child who is interested in a subject can often handle material for a higher age group, while a child who isn't interested in or hasn't been exposed to the subject may need to start with something for a younger age group.

  • Consider a child's personality and social habits. Some projects are best done alone, others in a group; some require help, others require little or no supervision. Solitary activities may bore some, while group projects may frighten others.

  • Select activities appropriate for the child's environment. A brightly lighted city isn't the best place for star-gazing, for example.

  • Allow your children to help select the activities. If you don't know whether Sarah would rather collect shells or plant daffodils, ask her. When she picks something she wants to do, she'll learn more and have a better time doing it.

Back to the Table of Contents


Important Things to Learn

Basic Concepts

Elementary school children can be introduced gradually to nine basic scientific concepts--ones that all scientists learn. These concepts are listed at the end of this handbook. The concepts provide a framework into which scientific facts can be placed.

We will introduce three of these concepts (in this section) that you can easily introduce to your children at home or in the community. The activities described in the next two sections of this book are based on these concepts, as are many other simple science-related projects.

1. Organization

Scientists like to find patterns and classify natural occurrences. We can encourage our children to think about objects according to their size or color--for instance, rocks, hills, mountains, and planets. Or they can observe leaves or insects and group the ones that are similar.

2. Change

The natural world changes continually. Some objects change rapidly; some at a rate too slow to observe. We can encourage our children to look for changes in things:

  • What happens to breakfast cereal when we pour milk on it?
  • What happens over time when a plant isn't watered or exposed to proper sunlight?
  • What changes can be reversed? Once water is turned into ice cubes, can it be turned back into water? Yes. But if an apple is cut into slices, can the slices be changed back into the whole apple?

3. Diversity

Even very young children know that there are many kinds of objects. One thing to do is help your child explore and investigate a pond. Within and around a single pond (depending on the size and location of the pond), there may be tremendous diversity: insects, birds, fish, frogs, turtles, other water creatures, and maybe some mammals. Looking at a pond is a great way to learn about the habits, life cycles, and feeding patterns of different organisms.

Integrity

The early years of elementary school are a good time to start teaching children scientific ethics. We should tell them how important it is to be accurate about their observations. They need to know it's all right to make mistakes--we all make mistakes, and we can learn from them. But explain that important discoveries are made only if we are willing and able to correct our mistakes.

Help your children understand that we can't always take someone else's word for something. That's why it's important to find out for ourselves.

Back to the Table of Contents


Activities at Home

This section contains a sampling of science activities-- organized roughly from easiest to most difficult--suitable for children from preschool through the early elementary grades. In a box near the end of each activity are a few facts and explanations for those who want them. But exploring, questioning, and having a good time is more important than memorizing facts. And, although your children may be able to do the following activities alone, we encourage you to join them.

Grown-Up Alert!

The activities in this book are safe with the appropriate supervision. Some require help from an adult. Others can be carried out by children alone, if they are old enough. Look in the instructions for the Grown-up alert! It will highlight an activity that may need supervision. Be sure your children who can read know which activities you do not want them to try by themselves.

Young children may not fully understand that bad things can happen to them. We don't want to scare our children away from science, but we must:

  • Provide supervision when it is appropriate--for example, when using heat or mixing chemicals;
  • Teach children not to taste anything unless they know it is good for them and is sanitary;
  • Insist children wear goggles whenever fire or splatter could endanger eyes;
  • Teach children to follow warnings on manufacturers' labels and instructions;
  • Keep toxic or other dangerous substances out of the reach of young children;
  • Teach children what they can do to minimize the risk of accidents; and
  • Teach children what to do if an accident occurs.
Results

Keeping records is an important part of science. It helps us remem- ber what didn't work as well as what did work. Someone asked Thomas Edison if he weren't discouraged after trying thousands of experiments--without results--to make the incandescent light bulb work. He replied:

Results! Why, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work.

So before starting, get a notebook for recording observations. If your children cannot write yet, they can draw pictures of what they see, or you may want to take notes for them.

We should remember, too, that seeing isn't the only way to observe. Sometimes we use other senses; we hear, feel, smell, or taste some things (children should be careful, of course, about what they taste).

Let's Go

Science can be learned in many places and environments and just as easily from everyday experiences as from formal projects and experiments. We can get our children interested in science with simple toys, books, and objects around the house and have fun while we're doing it.

So, flip through the following pages and find something that looks like fun.

Activities at Home Table of Contents

The Big Picture
Attack of the Straws
Soap Power
Bubbles
Bugs!
It Floats!
Slime!
Celery Stalks at Midnight
Sticky Stuff
Splish Splash
Hair-Raising Results
Moldy Oldies
Plants
Crystals
Cake!
Television
Back to the Table of Contents


The Big Picture

Looking at objects closely is an important part of science, and a magnifying glass lets us see things we don't even know are there. It also helps us see how objects are similar or different from each other.

What you'll need

A magnifying glass
Your science journal

What to do

1. Use your magnifying glass to see:

What's hidden in soil or under leaves;
What's on both sides of leaves;
How mosquitos bite;
Different patterns of snowflakes; and
Butterfly wings.

How many different objects can you find in the soil?

2. Draw pictures, or describe what you see, in your notebook.

If you were able to examine a mosquito, you probably saw how it bites something--with its proboscis, a long hollow tube that sticks out of its head. Snowflakes are fascinating because no two are alike. Powdery scales give butterfly wings their color.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Attack of the Straws

Can a paper straw go through a raw potato? Here's an easy way to learn about inertia and momentum.

What you'll need

A raw potato
One or more paper straws
Your science journal

What to do

1. Put a potato on the table or kitchen counter and hold it firmly with one hand, making sure the palm of your hand is not underneath the potato.*

2. With a fast, strong push, stab the potato with the straw.

3. What happens? Did the straw bend? The straw should go into the potato. If it didn't, try again with another straw--maybe a little faster or harder.

*If the potato is old, soak it in water for about half an hour before trying this activity.

An object remains at rest (the potato, in this case) or keeps moving (the straw, in this case) unless it is acted upon by some external force.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Soap Power

Have you ever tried using soap to power a boat? This simple activity works because of "surface tension."

What you'll need

1 index card
Scissors
A baking dish (or sink full of water)
Liquid dish detergent
Your science journal

What to do

1. From an index card, cut out a boat like this. Make it about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.

2. Place the boat gently on the water in the dish.

3. Pour a little detergent into the notch in the end of the boat. What happens? If you repeat the experiment, wash out the baking dish carefully each time you use detergent, or your boat won't go.

Your boat should zip across the water. Water molecules are strongly attracted to each other and stick close together, especially on the surface. This creates a strong but flexible "skin" on the water's surface that we call surface tension. Adding soap disrupts the arrangement of the water molecules and breaks the skin, making the boat go forward.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Bubbles

Who doesn't enjoy blowing bubbles? You can make bubbles at home, and they can be beautiful shapes and colors!

What you'll need

8 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid
1 quart water
1 drinking straw
A shallow tray

Grown-up alert!

1 tin can, open at both ends
Your science journal

What to do

1. Mix the dishwashing liquid with the water. Fill the shallow tray.

2. Blow through your straw as you move it slowly across the surface of the solution. How big are the bubbles you get?

3. Try making a very big bubble that covers the surface of the tray:

Dip one end of the straw into the sudsy solution then hold the straw slightly above the surface of the solution. Blow into it very gently. You may have to try several times to make a really big bubble.

When you have made a bubble, touch it gently with a wet finger. What happens?

Make another big bubble. Touch this one with a dry finger. What happens?

4. Try making bubbles with a tin can (don't cut yourself) open at both ends. Dip the can into the soapy solution so that you get a soap "window" across one end when you pull it out. Blow gently on the other end to form a bubble. You can use wider tubes such as coffee cans to make still bigger bubbles.

5. Look closely at the bubbles you make. How many colors can you see? Do the colors change?

6. If you have a wand at home that is left over from a bottle of bubbles you bought at the store, you can use it with this bubble solution.

Bubbles are bits of air or gas trapped inside a liquid ball. The surface of a bubble is very thin. Bubbles are particularly fragile when a dry object touches them. That's because soap film tends to stick to the object, which puts a strain on the bubble. So if you want your bubbles to last longer, keep everything wet, even the sides of the straw.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Bugs!

Some bugs help us, some annoy us, and some are downright dangerous. But you can learn a lot from bugs.

What you'll need

An insect guide and a spider
guide from the bookstore or library--preferably ones with pictures
Your magnifying glass
Your science journal

What to do

1. Search your home and neighborhood for bugs.

Grown-up Alert!

Look:

Around your front door
In cracks in the sidewalk
On lamps
On lights hanging from the center of the room
On plants
In crevices in drawers
In corners of rooms

2. Identify types of bugs using the guides. Did you find:

Ants?
Spiders?
Fleas?
Silverfish?
Moths?
Flies?
Ladybugs?

3. Ants can teach us how some insects work together as a community.

Watch ants scurry in and out of their ant hills or find some spilled food on the sidewalk.

Do they eat their food on the spot, or carry it back to their anthill?

When an ant finds food, it runs back to the hill to "tell" the others. As it runs, it leaves a trail that other ants in the hill can smell. The ants find the food by smelling their way along the trail.

4. Find out what the difference is between an insect and a spider.

Why do spiders spin webs?
What are webs made of?

5. Write down possible answers to all these questions in your journal or draw pictures of what you see.

Bugs do what they do to survive. They are constantly looking for food. Some bugs are both good and bad. Termites, for example, have a nasty reputation because they destroy peoples houses by eating the wood. But they also break down old trees, keeping the forest floor from becoming too cluttered with dead trees.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


It Floats!

We don't usually stop to wonder why a big cruise ship can float as well as a feather. This activity helps to explain.

What you'll need

1 solid wood building block
1 plastic cap from a bottle
2 pieces of aluminum foil (heavy duty if you have it)
1 chunk of clay

Grown-up alert!

1 pair of pliers
1 bathtub (or sink) filled with water
Your science journal

What to do

1. Hold the wood block in one hand and the plastic cap in the other hand.

Which one feels heavier?
Do you think the wooden block will float, or will it sink?
Will the plastic cap float, or sink?

2. Put both of them on the water to test your predictions. What happens? Put both of them under the water. What happens now?

3. Take a piece of aluminum foil and squeeze it into a solid ball with the pliers. Drop it in the water. Does it float or sink?

4. Get another piece the same size and shape it into a little boat. Place it on top of the water. Does it float now?

5. Try the same experiment with clay. Make a ball and drop it in the water. What happens?

6. Shape the clay into a boat and put it on the water. Does it float now?

The clay and foil balls sink because they are squeezed into small shapes, and only a small amount of water is trying to hold up the weight. When you spread out the clay or foil, it floats because the weight is supported by a lot more water.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Slime!

Oil the hinges of a door and it will stop squeaking. Rub petroleum jelly on lips to prevent them from becoming chapped. These slippery substances are called lubricants. They are very important in modern technology.

What you'll need

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Square baking pan
A mixing bowl
Liquid dish detergent
Vegetable oil
2 bowls
A watch with a second hand

Grown-up alert!

A table knife
8-ounce cup
Your science journal

What to do

1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the 4 envelopes of gelatin in 2 cups of hot tap water.

2. Coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil. Pour the gelatin mixture into the pan and put it in the refrigerator until firm (about 3 to 4 hours).

3. Use the knife to cut the gelatin into cubes about 1 x 1 x 1 inch. You should have about 64 cubes.

4. Place 15 cubes into a bowl. Place the second bowl about 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) away from the cube bowl.

5. When your parent or a friend says "go," start picking up the gelatin cubes one at a time with your thumb and index finger (don't squeeze!). See how many cubes you can transfer to the other bowl in 15 seconds.

Grown-up alert!

Do not eat the gelatin cubes after they have been handled or after they are covered with lubricant.

6. Put all the cubes back in the first bowl. Pour 1/4 cup dish detergent over the cubes. Gently mix the detergent and the cubes so that the cubes are well-coated.

7. Use the same method as before to transfer as many cubes as possible in 15 seconds.

8. Throw away the cubes and detergent and wash and dry both bowls. Put about 15 new cubes into one bowl and pour 1/4 cup water over the cubes, again making sure the cubes are thoroughly coated. See how many cubes you can transfer in 15 seconds.

9. Throw away the cubes and water. Put about 15 new cubes into one bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over the cubes. Make sure they are well coated. See how many cubes you can transfer in 15 seconds.

10. With which liquid were you able to transfer the most cubes? With which liquid were you able to transfer the fewest cubes? Which was the best lubricant (the slipperiest)? Which was the worst?

Cars, trucks, airplanes, and machines all have parts that rub against one another. These parts would heat up, wear down, and stop working if we didn't have lubricants. Lubricants reduce the amount of friction between 2 surfaces that move against each other.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Celery Stalks at Midnight

Did you ever wonder how a paper towel can soak up a spill, or how water gets from a plant's roots to its leaves? The name for this is "capillary action."

What you'll need

4 same-size stalks of fresh celery with leaves
4 cups or glasses

Grown-up alert!

Red and blue food coloring
A measuring cup
4 paper towels
A vegetable peeler
A ruler
Some old newspapers
Your science journal

What to do

1. Lay the 4 pieces of celery in a row on a cutting board or counter so that the place where the stalks and the leaves meet matches up.

2. Cut all 4 stalks of celery 4 inches (about 10 centimeters) below where the stalks and leaves meet.

3. Put the 4 stalks in 4 separate cups of purple water (use 10 drops of red and 10 drops of blue food color for each half cup of water).

4. Label 4 paper towels in the following way: "2 hours," "4 hours," "6 hours," and "8 hours." (You may need newspapers under the towels).

5. Every 2 hours from the time you put the celery into the cups, remove 1 of the stalks and put onto the correct towel. (Notice how long it takes for the leaves to start to change.)

6. Each time you remove a stalk from the water, carefully peel the rounded part with a vegetable peeler to see how far up the stalk the purple water has traveled.

7. What do you observe? Notice how fast the water climbs the celery. Does this change as time goes by? In what way?

8. Measure the distance it has traveled and record this amount in your science journal.

9. Make a list of other objects around your house or in nature that enable liquids to climb by capillary action. Look for paper towels, sponges, old sweat socks, brown paper bags, and flowers.

What other items can you find?

Capillary action happens when water molecules are more attracted to the surface they travel along than to each other. In paper towels, the molecules move along tiny fibers. In plants, they move through narrow tubes that are actually called capillaries. Plants couldn't survive without capillaries because they use the water to make their food.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Sticky Stuff

Adhesives are used to stick things together. Many adhesives we use every day are made in factories. Others occur in nature and have important uses for plants and animals.

What you'll need

Baking flour
Measuring cup
Egg white
Food coloring
4 small bowls
4 plastic spoons
Aluminum foil
Cotton balls
Toothpicks
Bits of cloth
Glitter
Blunt-tip scissors
Colored yarn or ribbon
Colored paper
Your science journal

What to do

1. Search your home to track down everything you can that is sticky. See how many of the following you can find:

Grown-up alert!

Tape
Postage stamps
Car bumper sticker
Envelopes containing glue
Honey
Wall paper with glue
A decal on a t-shirt
Spackle
A bicycle tire patch
Glue for fake fingernails
Peanut butter
An adhesive bandage

2. Make a list of everything you can find in nature with an adhesive. For example:

Barnacles that stick to boats, ships, and rocks
Spiders that use sticky threads to create webs that trap their food Pine trees that produce sticky sap

3. What adhesives can you think of that are used

in hospitals?
in offices?
in auto repair shops?

4. Make a poster or collage using adhesives.

Make 3 bowls of flour-and-water paste. In each bowl, add 1/4 cup water to 1/2 cup flour and mix until smooth. Add a different colored food coloring to each of the 3 bowls and mix.

Crack open an egg and separate the white into a bowl. Throw away the yolk. The white is your clear glue.

Make shapes on your poster or collage out of the colored flour and water paste. Use the egg white to attach aluminum foil, cotton balls, toothpicks, cloth, glitter, ribbon, yarn, and colored paper.

What makes glue, paste, or tape stick to things? Wood, paper, and many other materials have tiny cracks and holes in them. When we glue things together, sometimes the glue seeps into the tiny openings and hardens, making the materials stick together. Other times, the molecules on the surface of an object get tangled up with the glue molecules, making the objects stick together. Finally, glue may stick because of a chemical reaction.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Splish Splash

There are many ways to measure things. At bath time, use different sized containers to measure volume.

What you'll need

Measuring spoons and cups of different sizes
Milk containers of different sizes--for example, pint, quart, half-gallon, and gallon (or 1 liter, 2 liter, and 4 liter) A funnel
2 containers that hold the same amount (such as a 1 or 2 quart pitcher and storage bowl), but are different shapes--one tall and thin, and one short and squat

Grown-up alert!

1 bathtub or sink filled with water Your science journal

What to do

1. Fill a small container (such as a quart) with water. Then pour the water (using the funnel, if necessary) into a larger container (a half-gallon or gallon). How many small containers does it take to fill one large one?

2. How many tablespoons does it take to make half a cup? And how many cups to make a quart?

3. Find out how many quarts (or liters) it takes to fill a gallon (or a 4-liter container).

4. Next, fill the gallon (or 4-liter) container, and use the funnel to pour the water into the little containers. How many times will it fill the pint (or 1/2-liter) container?

5. Fill the short, squat container with a given amount of water--3 cups, for example.

Pour this water into the tall, thin container.

Do your eyes try to tell you the tall, thin container holds more than the short, squat one? Does it hold more?

Can you write all this in your science journal?

Water and other liquids take the shape of whatever container they are in. Containers of certain sizes have names--cup, pint, quart, liter, or gallon, for example. This activity provides an introduction to volume and measurement.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Hair-Raising Results

Have you ever been shocked when you walked across a rug or touched a light switch? Wait until a cool, dry day to learn about static electricity.

What you'll need

A cool, dry day
2 round balloons (inflated and tied)
2 20-inch pieces of string
1 wool or acrylic sock.
1 mirror (or more)
1 friend (or more)
Your science journal

What to do

1. Tie a string to each inflated balloon.

2. Rub a balloon on your hair for about 15 seconds. Be sure to rub around the whole balloon.

What happens to your hair?
What happens when you bring the balloon back close to your hair?

3. Rub the balloon on your hair again and have a friend (or parent) do the same with the other balloon.

4. Each of you hold the string to 1 balloon, letting the balloons hang freely, but without letting them touch anything.

5. Slowly move the 2 balloons toward each other, but don't let them touch.

What do you see?
Do the balloons push away from each other, or do they pull toward each other?

6. Place your hand between the two hanging balloons.

What happens?

7. Place a sock over 1 hand and rub 1 balloon with the sock. Then let the balloon hang freely. Bring your sock-covered hand near the balloon.

What happens?

8. Try rubbing both balloons with the sock and then let them hang near each other.

What happens now?

9. Look for other examples of static electricity around the house.

Have you ever felt a shock when you touched a metal doorknob on a cold winter day? What often happens when you remove the clothes from the dryer?

All materials contain millions of tiny particles, called protons and electrons, that have electric charges. Protons have positive charges, and electrons negative ones. Usually, they balance each other, but sometimes when two surfaces rub together, some of the electrons rub off one surface onto the other and we can have static electricity. Materials with like charges (all positive or all negative) move away from each other; those with opposite charges attract each other.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Moldy Oldies

Molds are tiny microscopic plants that can help or hurt us. Molds like some environmental conditions better than others. Find out which ones they prefer by watching mold grow.

What you'll need

Grown-up alert!

3 cups containing a little coffee or leftover food.
Your magnifying glass.
Your science journal.

What to do

1. Put 1 cup with coffee or leftover food on a sunny windowsill, 1 in the refrigerator, and 1 in a dark cupboard.

Look inside the cups every day for several days and write down what you see. Your magnifying glass will help. (It may take a few days for the mold to start growing.)

2. Does temperature affect the mold's growth? See if the cup left on the windowsill grows mold

more slowly,
more quickly, or
at the same rate as the one in the refrigerator.

3. Does light affect the growth of the mold?

Does the cup on the windowsill grow mold at the same rate as the one in a dark cupboard?

4. Look around your home for other molds. Inspect:

Pickles in a jar
Cottage cheese
Bread
Paint on the walls
Oranges
House plants
Tiles around the bathtub or shower.

6. Are the molds all the same color, or are they different?

We can find molds in all sorts of unexpected places. Unlike green plants, they can't make their own food from sunlight. Instead, they live directly off of what they are growing on.

Molds can be a nuisance when they settle on our food or possessions. But molds are also useful. The green spots on old oranges are penicillin mold. This is what the medicine is made from.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Plants

Plants are the only things on earth that turn sunlight into food. They do it through a process called photosynthesis, which is explored in this activity.

What you'll need

Some household plants A book on plant care from a store or the library

Grown-up alert!

Plant fertilizer

Paper

Scissors

Your magnifying glass

Your science journal

What to do

1. Look in your plant-care book, or ask a grown-up, to find out how much water each plant needs. Some may need to be watered more than others.

2. Take two clippings from one plant. Put one in a glass of water. Put the other one in a glass with no water. Check each day to see how long the one without water can survive.

3. Water the rest of the plants each week for several weeks. Fertilize some of the plants but not others during this time. Label the ones you fertilized.

4. Record the following in your science journal for those plants that got fertilized and for those that didn't:

Did any of the plants start to droop?

Did any of the plants have yellow leaves that fell off?

Did the plants grow toward the light?

5. See what happens when a plant (or part of a plant) doesn't get any light:

Cut 3 paper shapes about 2 inches by 2 inches. Circles and triangles work well, but you can experiment with other shapes, too.

Clip them to the leaves of a plant, preferably one with large leaves. Either an indoor or an outdoor plant will do. Be very careful not to damage the plant.

Leave one paper cutout on for 1 day, a second on for 2 days, and a third on for a week.

How long does it take for the plant to react? How long does it take for the plant to return to normal?

Photosynthesis means to "put together using light". Plants use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide from the air, and water into food. Plants need all of these to remain healthy. When the plant gets enough of these things, it produces a simple sugar, which it uses immediately or stores in a converted form of starch. We don't know exactly how this happens. But we do know that chlorophyll, the green substance in plants, helps it to occur.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Crystals

A crystal is a special kind of rock. Different crystals have different beautiful shapes and colors.

What you'll need

Your magnifying glass
Table salt
Epsom salt
Honey jar
Measuring cups and spoons
Paper cut into circles
Scissors
Pencil
String
1 3/4 cups of sugar
2 or 3 paper clips
A glass jar or drinking glass
Your science journal

What to do

1. Use your magnifying glass to look for crystals. Inspect:

The table salt and Epsom salt;

The honey jar (particularly if it has been open for awhile); and

The walls of the freezer (if it's not the frost-free kind).

2. Draw pictures of what you see in your science journal.

3. Do all of the crystals look the same?

If not, how are they different?

4. Try dissolving salt crystals and forming new ones:

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water.

Grown-up alert!

Heat the mixture over a low flame to evaporate the water.

What's left?

What shape are these crystals?

5. Snowflakes are made of ice crystals and are beautiful, but they are hard to see clearly. You can make paper snowflakes.

Take a circle of paper (use thin paper) and fold it in half. Then fan fold it.

Make cuts along all the edges. Unfold them.

6. Grow rock candy crystals from dissolved sugar.

Grown-up alert!

Pour a cup of boiling water into a dish and add 1 3/4 cups of sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Prepare a jar or glass as shown.

Wash the paper clips and use clean string. When the sugar water is cool, pour it into the jar and put it where no one will move it. Hang the paperclips in the water and put the pencil on top of the jar.

Some crystals may form in a few hours. Some may grow to be half an inch on each side. To save them, take them out of the water and keep them dry. But they may disappear--they are good to eat.

When certain liquids and gases cool and lose water, crystals are formed. Crystals are made up of molecules that fit neatly together in an orderly package. All crystals of the same material have the same shape, regardless of the size.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Cake!

Learn about chemical reactions by baking 4 small cakes, leaving an important ingredient out of 3 of them. The ingredients are only for 1 cake, so you'll need to measure and mix 4 times.

What you'll need

A small soup or cereal bowl
Several layers of aluminum foil
A pie pan
Cooking oil to grease the "cake pans"
Measuring spoons
A cup or small bowl for the egg
A small mixing bowl
Your science journal

Ingredients (for one cake)

6 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
2 or 3 pinches baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Part of an egg (Break egg into a cup, beat until mixed. Use 1/3 of it. Save the rest for 2 of the other cakes.)

What to do

1. Wrap several layers of aluminum foil around the outside of a cereal or soup bowl to form a mold.

2. Remove your foil "pan" and put it in a pie pan for support.

3. Oil the "inside" of your foil pan with cooking oil so the cake doesn't stick.

Grown-up alert!

4. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.

5. Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ones (only use 1/3 of the egg). Stir until smooth and all the same color.

6. Pour batter into the "pan."

7. Bake for 15 minutes.

8. Bake 3 more cakes:

Leave the oil out of one.
Leave the egg out of another.
Leave the baking powder out of the third.
Cut each cake in half and look at the insides.
Do they look different?
Do they taste different?

9. Write about, or draw pictures of, what you see and taste.

Heat helps some chemical reactions to occur as the cake bakes:

It helps baking powder produce tiny bubbles of gas making the cake light and fluffy (this is called leavening).

It causes protein from the egg to change and make the cake firm.

Oil keeps the heat from drying out the cake.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Television

Science can be learned from television. Even though the quality varies a lot, some programs provide a marvelous window on science. What to do

What you'll need

A television set
A VCR, if you have one
Your science journal

What to do

1. Look on the regular networks, public television stations, and cable channels (The Discovery Channel, for example) for science programs such as 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow, Nature, Nova, Newton's Apple, The Voyage of the MIMI, Mr. Wizard's World, and National Geographic, Jacques Cousteau, Cosmos, and Smithsonian Institution specials.

2. Look for reports of scientific discoveries and activities on regularly scheduled news programs, and for TV characters with science-related jobs--doctors, for instance.

3. If you have a VCR, tape science shows so you can look at them later and stop--or replay--parts that are particulary interesting or hard to understand and so you can talk to someone about them.

4. Watch some of these programs with an adult so you can ask questions.

Some TV programs give misleading information about science as well as about scientists. It is important to know which things on television are real and which ones aren't.

Back to the Activities Table of Contents


Activities in the Community

Our communities provide still more opportunities to learn science.

Zoos

Almost all children enjoy a trip to the zoo. We can use zoos to encourage our child's interest in the natural world and to introduce children to the many fascinating forms of life.

  • Guessing games can help your child understand structure and function. "Why do you think the seal has flippers?" (The seal uses flippers to swim through the water.) "Why do you think the gibbons have such long and muscular arms?" (Their arms help them swing through the trees.) "Why does the armadillo have a head that looks like it's covered with armor, as well as a body that's covered with small, bony plates?" (The armor and the small, bony plates protect it from being attacked by predators.) "Why is the snake the same brown color as the ground on which it spends most of its time?" (As snakes evolved, the brown ones didn't get eaten as quickly.) As your children mature, they will understand more complex answers to these questions.

  • Children can learn about organization by seeing related animals. Have them compare the sizes, leg shapes, feet, ears, claws, feathers, or scales of various creatures. Ask them, "Does the lion look like a regular cat?" "How are they the same?" "Does the gorilla look like the baboon?"

Here are a few suggestions to help make your visit worthwhile:

Discuss expectations with your children ahead of time. What do they think they'll find at the zoo? Very young or insecure children may go to the zoo with a more positive attitude if they are assured that it has food stands, water fountains, and bathrooms.

Don't try to see everything in one visit. Zoos are such busy places that they can overwhelm youngsters, particularly preschoolers and those in primary grades.

Try to visit zoos at off times or hours (in winter, for example, or very early on a Saturday morning). This provides some peace and quiet and gives children unobstructed views of the animals.

Look for special exhibits and facilities for children, such as "family learning labs" or petting zoos. Here, children can touch and examine animals and engage in projects specially designed for them. For example, at the HERPlab (derived from the word herpetology) at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., visitors can learn about reptiles and amphibians by doing everything from assembling a turtle skeleton to locating the different parts of a snake.

Plan follow-up activities and projects. A child who particularly liked the flamingos and ducks may enjoy building a bird house for the back yard. One who liked the mud turtle may enjoy using a margarine tub as a base to a papier-mache turtle.

Museums

Museums are designed today to interest visitors of all ages. Science and technology museums, natural history museums, and children's museums can be found in many middle-sized and smaller communities like Bettendorf, Iowa, and Worland, Wyoming, as well as in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

Museums vary in quality. If possible, seek out those that provide opportunities for hands-on activities. Look for museums with:

  • Levers to pull;
  • Lights to switch on;
  • Buttons to push;
  • Animals to stroke; and
  • Experiments to do.

Natural history museums sometimes have hands-on rooms where children can stroke everything from lizards to Madagascan hissing cockroaches.

Many museums offer special science classes. Look for omnitheaters. These enable visitors to see movies on subjects ranging from space launches to rafting on the Amazon projected on a giant screen. The sounds and sights of the experience are extremely realistic.

If you are unfamiliar with museums in your area, consult a librarian, the Yellow Pages of your telephone book, a local guidebook, or the local newspapers, which often list special exhibits.

Many tips for visiting the zoo are also helpful when you visit museums or other community facilities. For example, don't try to cover too much on one visit, and do try visiting at off hours when the crowds won't seem overwhelming.

Planetariums

Planetariums have wonderful exhibits and activities for youngsters. There are about 1,000 planetariums in the United States, ranging from small ones that hold about 20 people to giant facilities with 300 or more seats. These facilities are particularly useful for children in urban areas, where metropolitan lights and pollution obstruct one's view of the solar system. Inside planetariums, children often can:

  • Use telescopes to view the rings of Saturn;
  • See the "sky" with vivid clarity from inside the planetarium's dome; and
  • Step on scales to learn what they would weigh on the moon or on Mars.

To find the nearest planetarium, call the astronomy or physics department at a local college, your local science museum, or the science curriculum specialist or science teachers in your school district.

Aquariums

Aquariums enable youngsters to see everything from starfish to electric eels. Children particularly enjoy feeding times. Call ahead to find out when the penguins, sharks, and other creatures get to eat. And check for special shows with sea lions and dolphins.

Farms

A visit to a farm makes a wonderful field trip for elementary school youngsters. But parents can also arrange visits. If you don't know a farmer, call the closest 4-H Club for a referral. Consider dairy farms, as well as vegetable, poultry, hog, and tree farms.

On a dairy farm, see the cows close up, view silos, and learn what cows eat. Find out from the farmer:

  • Up to what age do calves drink only milk?
  • When do they add other items to their diets? What are they?
  • Why are the various foods a cow eats nutritious?

A visit to a farm also enables children to identify the difference between calves, heifers, and cows; to watch the cows being milked; to see farm equipment; to sit on tractors; and to ask questions about how tractors work.

If you visit a vegetable farm, encourage your children to look at the crops and ask questions about how they grow. If your children grew up in an urban area, they may have no idea what potatoes or beans look like growing in a field.

People Who Use Science in Their Work

See if your children can spend part of a day or even an hour with a park ranger, pharmacist, veterinarian, chemist, engineer, or laboratory technician. This can teach the importance of science for many jobs. Before the visit, encourage your children to read about the work so they will be able to ask good questions during the visit.

Nature Hikes

Many communities have parks, forests, or nature areas in which to walk. Some of these have centers where visitors can do everything from observe beehives to learn about flora and fauna. If these facilities are unavailable, walk around your neighborhood and help your children:

  • Collect and identify leaves or rocks;
  • Observe pigeons, squirrels, butterflies, ants, or spider webs;
  • Observe differences among the dogs and cats you see; and
  • Talk about the special features of the birds and flowers you encounter.
Science Groups and Organizations

There are special groups and organizations for children in many communities. Check out:

  • Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or Camp Fire, Inc.;
  • Y.M.C.A.s or Y.W.C.A.s;
  • 4--H groups; or
  • The National Audubon Society.

Some groups focus solely on a particular science activity--ham radios, for instance, or computers. Schools sometimes organize groups for students with special science interests.

Science Camps

Contact the National Audubon Society, which runs ecology camps, the National Wildlife Federation's Ranger Rick Wildlife Camp in North Carolina (which is a good choice for children who love nature); or the U.S. Space Camp at Huntsville, Alabama. (See Notes section.)

Other Community Resources

Look into botanical gardens, weather stations, hospital laboratories, sewage treatment plants, newspaper plants, radio and television stations, and after school programs such as Hands On Science Outreach, Inc., (HOSO) or a Challenger Center.

Learning from Toys

Children don't need fancy science toys or kits to learn science. But if you want to buy some for your children, plenty are available. Look in toy stores, hobby shops, other specialty shops, or in catalogs. It is beyond the scope of this booklet to recommend specific toys. However, these tips can guide you:

  • Children may not benefit if a toy or activity is a poor match for their interests or temperaments.

  • Learn what the toy can and cannot do before you buy it. Many youngsters have looked through a toy telescope and been disappointed when they couldn't see bumps and craters on the moon.

  • Read instructions carefully so you gain everything possible from the toy.

In the Library and the Bookstore

Libraries and bookstores have a growing number of books to teach children science. Many are educational, beautifully illustrated, and fun to read. But science can also be learned from "non-science" books, such as fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and history books.

When selecting books, remember that recommended reading levels printed on the jackets or backs of books are not always helpful. After the third grade, what children read is usually based as much on interest as it is on reading level.

The National Science Teachers Association asks a range of questions when evaluating books for young people:

Is the author reliable? Does the author have a good background and reputation? Is the content interesting to children? Is the sequence of events logical? Is the material accurate? Is the format pleasant? Are the illustrations accurate, and do they match the text? Is the vocabulary appropriate? (Big words are OK as long as they are explained and used in context.) Are biases evident (biases against race, sex, or nationality)? Does the book glorify violence? Are controversies handled fairly?

Are the suggested activities safe? Practical?

If you need help in selecting books, consult a children's librarian or bookstore clerk.

Back to the Table of Contents


Appendices

The appendices of this booklet list some of the science books appropriate for elementary school children, and suggests places to find still more. The appendix also lists magazines and periodicals for elementary school children that focus on science.

Parents and the Schools

Educators and policymakers are working to improve elementary school science, but parents also can help. Here's how:
  1. Visit your child's elementary school and see what kind of science instruction is available. During your visit, look for clues as to whether science is valued.

    • Do you see displays related to science? Science learning centers?
    • Are science-related drawings on the bulletin boards? Are there plants, terrariums, aquariums, or collections (of rocks or insects, for example)?
    • Do you see any science equipment in evidence? Are there magnifiers? Magnets? Pictures? Films?
    • Does the school library contain science books? If so, ask the librarian if the children are encouraged to read them.
    • Is there enough space in the classrooms or elsewhere in the school for students to conduct experiments?
    • In science classes, do students work with materials, or is the teacher always demonstrating? Do students discuss their ideas, predictions, and explanations with each other as well as with the teacher?

  2. Ask questions about the science program at parent-teacher conferences or PTA meetings. Or set up an appointment with the school principal. This provides you with information about the science program and lets educators know you think science is important. Educators are more apt to teach subjects they know parents are interested in. Here are some things to find out:

    • What facilities and resources are available to teach science? If the school budget for science is inadequate, has the school or district tried to obtain resources from the community, particularly the business community?
    • How often is science taught? Every day, once a week, or only once in a while?
    • Do the school and/or your children's teachers have clear goals and objectives for teaching science?
    • Can students do hands-on science projects?
    • Are activities available that parents can use at home to supplement class instruction?

  3. Take action.

    • If the science program is inadequate, talk with your child's teacher or meet with the principal. If that brings no results, write to or meet with school board members. You might get better results if you organize with other parents who have similar concerns.
    • Volunteer your services to improve the science programs. You can:

      • Assist teachers and students with classroom science projects;
      • Chaperone science-related field trips;
      • Offer to set up a science display in the school's front hallway or in your child's classroom;
      • Lead hands-on lessons (if you have a good science background yourself);
      • Help in a computer laboratory or other area requiring adult supervision; and
      • Volunteer to raise funds for computers, a classroom guinea pig, or field trips.

Back to the Table of Contents


Concepts

The National Center for Improving Science Education recommends that elementary schools design curricula that introduce nine scientific concepts. Many of the activities described in this handbook teach these concepts, which are drawn from the center's recent report, Getting Started in Science: A Blueprint for Elementary School Science Education. The nine concepts are:

1. Organization. Scientists have made the study of science manageable by organizing and classifying natural phenomena. For example, natural objects can be assembled in hierarchies (atoms, molecules, mineral grains, rocks, strata, hills, mountains, and planets). Or objects can be arranged according to their complexity (single-celled amoeba, sponges, and so on to mammals).

Primary grade children can be introduced to this concept by sorting objects like leaves, shells, or rocks according to their characteristics. Intermediate grade children can classify vegetables or fruits according to properties they observe in them, and then compare their own classification schemes to those used by scientists.

2. Cause and effect. Nature behaves in predictable ways. Searching for explanations is the major activity of science; effects cannot occur without causes. Primary children can learn about cause and effect by observing the effect that light, water, and warmth have on seeds and plants. Intermediate grade children can discover that good lubrication and streamlining the body of a pinewood derby car can make it run faster.

3. Systems. A system is a whole that is composed of parts arranged in an orderly manner according to some scheme or plan. In science, systems involve matter, energy, and information that move through defined pathways. The amount of matter, energy, and information, and the rate at which they are transferred through the pathways, varies over time. Children begin to understand systems by tracking changes among the individual parts.

Primary children can learn about systems by studying the notion of balance--for example, by observing the movements and interactions in an aquarium. Older children might gain an understanding of systems by studying the plumbing or heating systems in their homes.

4. Scale refers to quantity, both relative and absolute. Thermometers, rulers, and weighing devices help children see that objects and energy vary in quantity. It's hard for children to understand that certain phenomena can exist only within fixed limits of size. Yet primary grade children can begin to understand scale if they are asked, for instance, to imagine a mouse the size of an elephant. Would the mouse still have the same proportions if it were that large? What changes would have to occur in the elephant-sized mouse for it to function? Intermediate grade children can be asked to describe the magnification of a microscope.

5. Models. We can create or design objects that represent other things. This is a hard concept for very young children. But primary grade children can gain experience with it by drawing a picture of a cell as they observe it through a microscope. Intermediate grade children can use a model of the earth's crust to demonstrate the cause of earthquakes.

6. Change. The natural world continually changes, although some changes may be too slow to observe. Rates of change vary. Children can be asked to observe changes in the position and apparent shape of the moon. Parents and children can track the position of the moon at the same time each night and draw pictures of the moon's changing shape to learn that change takes place during the lunar cycle. Children can also observe and describe changes in the properties of water when it boils, melts, evaporates, freezes, or condenses.

7. Structure and function. A relationship exists between the way organisms and objects look (feel, smell, sound, and taste) and the things they do. Children can learn that skunks let off a bad odor to protect themselves. Children also can learn to infer what a mammal eats by studying its teeth, or what a bird eats by studying the structure of its beak.

8. Variation. To understand the concept of organic evolution and the statistical nature of the world, students first need to understand that all organisms and objects have distinctive properties. Some of these properties are so distinctive that no continuum connects them--for example, living and nonliving things, or sugar and salt. In most of the natural world, however, the properties of organisms and objects vary continuously.

Young children can learn about this concept by observing and arranging color tones. Older children can investigate the properties of a butterfly during its life cycle to discover qualities that stay the same as well as those that change.

9. Diversity. This is the most obvious characteristic of the natural world. Even preschoolers know that there are many types of objects and organisms. In elementary school, youngsters need to begin understanding that diversity in nature is essential for natural systems to survive. Children can explore and investigate a pond, for instance, to learn that different organisms feed on different things.

Back to the Table of Contents


Resources

Listed below are a few of the many excellent science books available for elementary school children. A special thank you to the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its recommendations, many of which received positive reviews in its publication SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS. Suggestions also came from SCIENCE FARE, by Wendy Saul and Alan R. Newman; from THE NEW YORK TIMES PARENT'S GUIDE TO THE BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN, by the National Science Resources Center; and from Phyllis Marcuccio at the National Science Teachers Association.

The Consumer Information Center (CIC) has many booklets and pamphlets available free or for a small fee. For a free catalog, write to Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009.

There are many local, county, state, and federal offices that can help. Contact your state energy or environmental office or state department of education; the county cooperative extension service; or a county, state, or national park near you for information and literature. Also try the U.S. Department of the Interior (Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Forest Service, Cooperative Extension System), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

1. Dinosaur books (particularly suitable for children in primary grades):

Aliki, (1981). Digging Up Dinosaurs, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York.

Aliki, (1985). Dinosaurs Are Different, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York.

Lauber, Patricia, (1987). Dinosaurs Walked Here and Other Stories Fossils Tell, Bradbury Press, New York.

Richler, Mordecai, (1987). Jacob Two-Two and the Dinosaur. Knopf, New York.

Sattler, Helen (1981). Dinosaurs of North America, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, New York.

2. Animal and wildlife books:

Arnold, Caroline, (1982). Animals that Migrate. Carolrhoda, Minneapolis.

Arnold, Caroline, (1988). Penguin. Morrow Junior Books, New York.

Coldrey, Jennifer, (1987). Discovering Flowering Plants. Bookwright, New York.

Cutchins, Judy, and Johnston, Ginny, (1989). Scoots the Bog Turtle. Atheneum, New York.

Lerner, Carol, (1987). A Forest Year. Morrow Junior Books, New York.

McClung, Robert, (1988). Lili: A Giant Panda of Sichuan. Morrow Junior Books, New York.

McClung, Robert, (1988). Major: The Story of a Black Bear. Shoe String Press, Inc., Hamden, Conn.

McNulty, Faith, (1986). Peeping in the Shell: A Whooping Crane Is Hatched. Harper & Row, New York.

Powzyk, Joyce, (1988). Tracking Wild Chimpanzees. Lothrop, Lee & Shephard, New York.

Pringle, Laurence, (1977). The Hidden World: Life Under a Rock. Macmillan, New York.

Scott, Jack Denton, (1976, 1978). Discovering the American Stork, and Discovering the Mysterious Egret. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, New York.

Selsam, Millicent, (1984). Where Do They Go? Insects in Winter. Scholastic, Inc., New York.

Spencer, Guy J., (1988). A Living Desert. A Troll Question Book, Mahway, N.J.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Take Pride in America with Mark Trail. Acitivty book listed in the CIC catalog.

3. Astronomy and physics:

Adler, Irving, (1980). The Stars: Decoding Their Message. Thomas Y. Crowell, New York.

Arnold, Caroline (1987). A Walk on the Great Barrier Reef. Carolrhoda, Minneapolis.

Asimov, Isaac, (1988). How the Universe Was Born. Gareth Stevens, Inc., Milwaukee.

Asimov, Isaac, (1989). Is There Life on Other Planets? Gareth Stevens, Inc., Milwaukee.

Bronowski, Jacob (1987). Biography of an Atom. Harper Junior, New york.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle, (1989). Sky All Around. Clarion, New York.

Lauber, Patricia (1987). Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helen's. Bradbury Press, New York.

Maurer, Richard, (1985). The NOVA Space Explorer's Guide: Where to Go and What to See. Clarkson N. Potter/WGBH, Boston.

Radlauer, Edward and Ruth, (1987). Earthquakes. Children's Press, Chicago.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1988). Stars in Your Eyes: A Guide to the Northern Skies. Listed in the CIC catalog

4. Anatomy:

Allison, Linda (1976). Blood & Guts: A Working Guide to Your Own Insides. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Toronto.

Balestrino. Philip, (1989). The Skeleton Inside You, revised edition. Crowell, New York.

Smith, Kathie Bilingslea, and Crenson, Victoria (1987, 1988). Hearing; Seeing; Smelling; Tasting; Thinking; and Touching. A Troll Question Book, Mahwah, N.J.

5. Applied science:

Adkin, Jan, (1980). Moving Heavy Things. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Macaulay, David, (1975, 1981, 1988). Pyramid, Cathedral, and The Way Things Work. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Marsoli, Lisa Ann, (1986). Things to Know about Going to the Dentist. Silver Burdett, Morristown, N.J.

Munro, Roxie, (1989). Blimps. Dutton, New York.

Shapiro, Mary J., 1986). How They Built the Statue of Liberty. Random House, New York.

6. Fiction incorporating science:

George, Jean Craighead, (1972). Julie of the Wolves. Harper & Row, New York.

Holling, Holling C., (1971). Paddle-to-the-Sea. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Hurwitz, Johanna, (1978). Much Ado About Aldo. Morrow, New York.

Law, Felicia, (1985). Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle. (A fictionalized account of the voyage to Galapagos), Andre Deutsch, Bergenfield, N.J.

Scott, O'Dell, (1960). Island of the Blue Dolphins. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

7. Biographical Figures:

Look for books about:

Nathaniel Bowditch, the early 19th century American mathematician and astronomer and author of the best book on navigation of his time;

George Washington Carver, the agricultural scientist who discovered over 300 uses for the peanut;

Marie Curie, the Polish-born French physicist famous for work on radioactivity;

Charles Darwin, the English naturalist reknowned for his work on evolution;

Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer;

Louis Pasteur, one of the world's foremost early microbiologist whose research led to pasteurization;

Sally Ride, the American astronaut and scientist; or

John Augustus and Washington Augustus Roebling, U.S. civil engineers and designers of the Brooklyn Bridge.

8. Science Experiments:

Allison, Linda, (1988). The Wild Inside: Sierra Club's Guide to the Great Indoors. Little, Brown & Co., Boston, Toronto.

Barr, George (1986). Science Projects for Young People. Dover Publications, Inc., New York.

Carson, Mary Stetten, (1989). The Scientific Kid: Projects, Experiments and Adventures. Harper & Row, New York.

Cobb, Vicki, and Darling, Kathy, (1980). Bet You Can't! Science Impossibilities to Fool You. Lothrop, Lee & Shephard, New York.

Cobb, Vicki, (1972). Science Experiments You Can Eat. Harper & Row, New York.

Gardner, Robert, (1989). Science Around the House. Julian Messner, New York.

Herbert, Don, (1959). Mr. Wizard's Experiments for Young Scientists. Doubleday, Inc., Garden City, N.Y.

Katz, Phyllis, (1990). Exploring Science Through Art. Franklin Watts, New York.

Lewis, James, (1989). Learn While you Scrub: Science in the Tub. Meadowbrook Press, Deephaven, Minn.

Shermer, Michael, (1989). Teach Your Child Science: Making Science Fun for the Both of you. Lowell House, Los Angeles.

Stacy, Dennis, (1988). Nifty (and Thrifty) Science Activities: Demonstrations, Experiments, and Learning Labs. David S. Lake, Belmont, Calif.

Stein, Sara, (1980). The Science Book. Workman Publishing, New York.

Stine, Megan, and seven others, (1989). Still More Science Activities (from the Smithsonian Institution). Galison Books, GMG Publishing, New York.

Toney, Sara D., (1986). Smithsonian Surprises: An Educational Activity Book. Smithsonian Instituion, Washington, D.C.

Van Cleave, Janice Pratt, (1989). Chemistry for Every Kid. Wiley, New York.

Zubrowski, Bernie, (1981). Messing Around with Drinking Straw Construction. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Toronto.

Zubrowski, Bernie, (1985). Raceways: Having Fun with Balls and Tracks. William Morrow and Company, New York.

9. Magazines and periodicals:

3-2-1- Contact, Children's Television Workshop, One Lincoln Plaza, New York, NY 10023. Provides puzzles, projects, experiments.

Chickadee, Young Naturalist Foundation, P.O. Box 11314, Des Moines, IA 50340. Information, activities about nature-related topics.

Cricket, the Magazine for Children, box 52961, Boulder, CO 80322-2961. Stories and experiments for elementary school children.

Ladybug, Cricket Country Lane, Box 50284, Boulder, CO 80321-0284. Stories and activities for preschoolers and beginning readers.

National Geographic World, National Geogrpahic Society, 17th and M Streets NW, Washington, DC 20036. Excellent photographs, art, narratives.

Odyssey, Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1027 North Seventh Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233. Describes concepts and principles of astronomy.

Owl, Young Naturalist Foundation, P.O. Box 11314, Des Moines, Iowa 50304. Answers Children's questions about nature and science.

Ranger Rick, National Wildlife Federation, 1412 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-2266. Helps children enjoy nature and appreciate need for conservation through indoor and outdoor activities.

Science weekly, Subscription Department, Science Weekly, P.O. Box 70154, Washington, DC 20088-0154. Focuses on topics in science, math, and technology.

Scienceland, Scienceland, Inc., 501 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017- 6165. Each volume focuses on a scientific topic.

WonderScience, American Chemical Society, 1155 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. WonderScience is a science activity publication for children and parents.

Additional Titles Are Available From Libraries, Bookstores, and From the Following Sources:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reviews science books for children in SCIENCE BOOKS AND FILMS. For a subscription, write to SB & F Subscriptions, AAAS, Room 814, 1333 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

Science Fare by Wendy Saul and Alan R. Newman includes listings. It was published by Harper & Row, New York, in 1986.

The Children's Book Council and the National Science Teachers Association each year cite outstanding science trade books for children. A list is available by writing to the National Science Teachers Association, Public Information Office, 1742 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

"Books for Children" from CIC is an annual listing from the Library of Congress of the best books recently published for preschool through junior high school-age children. It includes books on science and nature. Send $1.00 to Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009.

Back to the Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

This booklet has been made possible with help from the following people who reviewed early drafts, provided materials and suggestions, or both: Mitchell Pearlstein, Audrey Champagne, Sally Crissman, Joyce Epstein, Doug Lapp, Susan Loucks-Horsley, Phyllis Marcuccio, Susan Snyder, Kate Dorrell, Pat Bonner, Annette Duff, Mary Levy, Phyllis Katz, Gene Vosicky, James Kessler, Carol Boggs, Robin Michael, and many individuals within the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

Special thanks go to Senta Raizen, Director of the National Center for Improving Science Education, who provided continuing guidance and support. Much of the conceptual material in this book is drawn from the Center's report, GETTING STARTED IN SCIENCE: A BLUEPRINT FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SCIENCE EDUCATION.

PUBLICATIONS FOR PARENTS FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

The following booklets and pamphlets may be ordered from the Consumer Information Center. Make check or money order payable to Superintendent of Documents. Send your request to R. Woods, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado 81009 and give the item number of the publications you want. Prices include postage and handling and are good through December 1991. You may also write for a free catalog.

(This booklet is also available in Spanish. Cost free. Order from: U.S. Department of Education Education Information Branch 555 New Jersey Avenue NW Washington, DC 20208-5641.)
Title Price Item number
Help Your Child Become a Good Reader 0.50 449X
Help Your Child Do Better in School 0.50 450X
Help Your Child Improve in Test-Taking 0.50 451X
Help Your Child Learn Math 0.50 452X
Help Your Child Learn To Write Well 0.50 453X
Helping Your Child Learn Geography 0.50 454X
Helping Your Child Use the Library 0.50 455X
Becoming a Nation of Readers: What Parents Can Do 0.50 447X
Choosing a School for Your Child 0.50 471X
Growing Up Drug Free Free 551X
Helping Your Child Learn Science Free 611X


CIC PUBLICATION REQUEST FORM

1. Publication Requested

Name:

Number:

Cost: $ per copy

Please send free catalog [ ]

2. REQUESTOR DATA (Please type or print)

Name:

Name of Organization:

Mailing Address (include number, street, city, State, and zip code):

Telephone No. (include area code):

No. of copies:

Total cost of order is $ . All prices include regular domestic postage and handling.

3. Ordering Instructions To obtain a copy or copies of this publication, complete the request form. Make check or money order payable to Superintendent of Documents

Mail to : R. Woods Consumer Information Center Pueblo, Colorado 81009

Back to the Table of Contents


Credits

U.S Department of Education
Office of Educational Research and Improvement
Programs For the Improvement of Practice
August 1991

Back to top
spacerspacerspacer


Infants | Toddlers | Preschoolers | K-12
Education | Health | Recreation | Parenting | Organizations | Store
Home | Media Info | Survey | About Us | Legal

KidSource OnLine KidSource and KidSource OnLine are trademarks of Kidsource OnLine, Inc. Copyright 2009. Other trademarks property of their respective holders.. Created: May 30, 1996 . Last modified time : April 20, 2000 .