All human beings are born as natural scientists with the desire to make sense of their immediate environment. Research shows that young children learn and think in a similar way to professional scientists. Preschoolers continuously test their hypotheses and learn from their very own experimentation. Kids are naturally born with the skill to adjust their learning continuously as they strive to turn around, crawl, sit or figure out how to walk.

Only thirty years ago we believed that preschoolers’ thinking was irrational, illogical and only short sighted.  People grew up believing that they were useless until they were able to receive a higher education. The schooling system has been used as a tool for industrial training. It has been a place where the belief in human potential has been exchanged with the belief in human limitations. Listening, obeying and performing were the skills required in this era. Making mistakes has been taken out of the natural context of learning and turned into a whipping tool. The ability to bounce back from failure has therefore become for a lot of us a life long challenge. Only a small number of us have been able to keep their wonder and enthusiasm for self directed learning intact.

Today we are speaking about a shortage in all STEM Subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and we seriously wonder why?

Welcome to the technology age. This age surprises us with the expectation of a drastic mind shift in the beliefs in parenting and education. Children in Preschool are suddenly believed to be able to solve scientific, technological, engineering and math challenges (called STEM-learning). Global issues like recycling and global warming are being discussed with the very young. Suddenly kids are expected to think differently, to think creatively and against conventional beliefs. They are allowed to lead their own learning and are being able to be led by their inner curiosity.

The great news:  our kids are finally being recognized as 100% natural scientists and explorers. They are able to use 100% of their creativity and imagination and are 100% emboldened to challenge the status quo. The biggest shift of all: failing today is not only allowed but even necessary!

Scientists today say that Neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes or are doing difficult tasks rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones. It is believed that risk will achieve the never imagined and that only when kids are able to achieve a deeper understanding about the world – including its interdependence between humanity and its environment – they are will be able to care for our world,turn away from present selfishness and find solutions for our global issues. We are finally allowed to be 100% Human! WELCOME TO THE ERA OF UNLIMITED EXPLORATION!

What can we as parents do to support our children to support the shift in our mind? How are we able to awake and nurture our own inner scientist?

We need to give our kids space to practice their natural given exploration tools; their inner curiosity, to be able to navigate through todays 100% Human-Tech Era. We embrace the human engine called curiosity.  We EMBRACE FAILURE!

Science creates space for unstructured exploration, child directed learning. Here we go!

Create a science corner for your kidsbddea6ce444e6f5f83e25a457e622a53

Make different kinds of materials available for self exploration and shared experimentation. And the most important thing: Let your child lead and teach you! They’ll have some crazy ideas for different experiments, and that’s OK, let them explore.

Science Experiment 1: Magic Milk with Dishwashing Liquid

49145118075680e17f257004484a9fbbWHAT YOU NEED:

Provide your child with the following material and make sure to limit the amount of material they are allowed to use (for example the dishwashing liquid – fill it into a little container) to avoid frustration.

  • a tray (to minimise the creative mess)
  • Whole Milk (1 glass)
  • Plates/ Bowls (3)
  • Dishwashing Liquid (½ a cup)
  • Food Colouring
  • cotton buds

Provide your child with the material and enjoy the journey of exploration. The instruction for the experiment below is only a guideline for you, while your child may lead the adventure into a completely new direction.

Guideline for you:
  1. Pour milk into the plate or bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Use cotton buds to drip dish washing liquid into the tray. TIP: Do NOT swirl it in the milk.
  4. Watch in amazement and experiment further with dish washing liquid. Can you make bubbles? Explore further!

There is no right or wrong when kids are experimenting! You can ask them for their very own assumptions before starting the experiment and reflect on it after the experiment. Therefore they are able to challenge their own and traditional theories and beliefs about natural science.

Talk with your child during the process: What are you doing? What do you think will happen? What happened? Why do you think did it happen that way?

Children are creating own theories by their own explorations. They are required to think for themselves and not only to copy others, to be able to tackle successfully our global challenges.

Science Experiment 2: The water drop race13f45355a7e492411c9b5935c0436b43

Provide your child with the following material and make sure to limit the amount of material they are allowed to use (for example the water – fill it into a little container) to avoid frustration.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • a tray (to minimise the creative mess)
  • waxed paper
  • straw
  • water

Blow water in drops along waxed paper, build a slide for drops or build a race track, use different kind of paper, put colour into water… follow your child’s imagination!

Science Experiment 3: Homemade bubble recipe3cdde101359c4d9332c7eec41de8ab41

Provide your child with the following material and make sure to limit the amount of material they are allowed to use (for example the water – fill it into a little container) to avoid frustration.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 cups water
  • a tray (to minimise the creative mess)
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup (liquid glucose)
  • 1/4 cup liquid dish soap
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • straws (and experiment with other material like empty water bottles/ pipe cleaner/ hula hoop… )

And as mentioned before hand there is no right or wrong when kids are experimenting!

Science Experiment 4: Walking water science631454c07ac7989b331e53a5c01d33e9

Provide your child with the following material and again make sure to limit the amount of material they are allowed to use (for example the water – fill it into a little container) to avoid frustration.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • at least 3 empty glasses
  • a tray (to minimise the creative mess)
  • water
  • food coloring
  • paper towels
  • little pipettes

Provide your children with the material and enjoy the journey of exploration. And don’t forget that the instruction for the experiment is only a guideline for you, while your child may lead the adventure into a completely new direction.

Guideline for you:

Fill a jar for each color and add food colouring.

Cut a paper towel in half and then fold it into quarters lengthwise. Stick one end of the paper towel into the coloured water and one end into the empty jar and observe!

You are also able to create pictures on paper towels with the help of pipettes and food colouring or felts.

And as always there is no right or wrong when kids are experimenting! Talk with your child during the process: What are you doing? What do you think will happen? What happened? Why do you think did it happen that way?

Follow your child’s imagination!

 

Soon to come:  more experiments for your child’s science corner about the element air!

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Silvia is an ECE professional, Qualified science educator, global consultant, mother of 3 and founder of diverse international experiential learning projects for children and adults. The Little Kiwi Scientists is her newest project and encourages New Zealanders to embrace science learning and 100% human potential. Her daughter (11) started mindsurprise.com

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