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SCIENCE IS...

A Source Book of Fascinating Facts, Projects and Activities

Excerpt: Quality, Fun Time with Children Can Include Science

Some of the fondest memories I have of childhood involve working on my science fair projects with my father in our basement. It would be late at night and I would beg to try "just one more thing." My father – no matter how tired he was or whether or not he had to go to work in the morning – would oblige. He made me feel that what I was doing was worthwhile. When something didn't work, he encouraged me and made suggestions. He helped me make a motor from a shoebox and radios from scavenged parts. He taught me how to solder. He taught me how to organize my display board. And on judging day, he would stand off in the corner of the exhibit area smiling at me as I nervously explained my project to the judges.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman felt the involvement of his parents contributed to his love of science. Among his other scientific accomplishments, Feynman discovered that the O-rings in the space shuttle Challenger failed because of cold weather and caused the tragic explosion. He also composed music and picked top-secret government safes at Los Alamos (for fun and challenge only, of course!).

Feynman tells this story in one of his books:

We had the Encyclopedia Britannica at home. When I was a small boy [my father] used to sit me on his lap and read to me from the Britannica. We would be reading, say, about dinosaurs. It would say something like, "This dinosaur is 25 feet high and its head is 6 feet across." My father would stop reading and say, "Now, let's see what that means. That would mean that if he stood in our front yard, he would be tall enough to put his head through our window up here." (We were on the second floor.) "But his head would be too wide to fit in the window." Everything he read to me he would translate as best he could into some reality... I learned from my father to translate: everything I read I try to figure out what it really means... That's the way I was educated by my father, with those kinds of examples and discussions: no pressure -- just lovely, interesting discussions. It motivated me for the rest of my life, and it makes me interested in all the sciences.

Parental influence can be a vital force in scientific literacy. We cannot depend solely on schools to teach our children science. We are asking our schools to do more and more with less and less. Japanese students have the highest math and science test scores in the world. Research has indicated that one reason may be that parents play a key role in education. Most Japanese children learn to read and write at home, before they even enter school.

Children's questions don't stop when they leave the classroom. When parents help children explore their questions, children realize that science is something important and something they can do. Families who do science activities together, at home, demystify science and make it a part of everyday life. Both parents and children benefit: children gain enthusiasm for learning and parents gain satisfaction as participants in the children's education. I hope that Science Is... helps you to get started.

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

Science Is...

Excerpt from Science Is...: A Source Book of Fascinating Facts, Projects and Activities by
Susan V. Bosak. This classic bestseller is filled with easy-to-use, tested activities for children
6-14 years.
Click here to find out more, see sample activities, and get online ordering info for Science Is....

Science Is...

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