Schools around the country are trying to get students more interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related fields. The goal for educators is to encourage a love of science in students and hopefully motivate students to pursue a STEM career, which can in turn lessen unemployment and improve the nation’s economy. According to SciencePioneers.org, “If the United States is to maintain its global leadership and competitive position, then we just have to motivate our most promising students into the STEM fields. Science has been identified as a national priority, but science teachers can’t do it all on their own. Parents have to become more interested and knowledgeable.”(1)
Science is also a way that God reveals himself to us.
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind,” Job 12:7-10.
Thus, we need to encourage our children to have a well-rounded educational foundation by promoting science in our homes. We can start by instilling a love for science while our children are very young.
Five ways homeschool families can build a love for science in their children:
Walking through science – Walking in nature you can teach your kids about different types of plants, animals, erosion, cloud formations, weather patterns, insects, rocks, etc. You can also help your child start a garden, nature collection (rock, leaf, insect), or ant farm. The key is to let your child’s personal interest guide him or her into learning more about God’s creations (science).
Parents of preschool-aged children can encourage their students to play “eye spy” and point out things they may see in nature. Older students can play a scavenger hunt game or use nature walks as a time to take pictures of what they see in nature. Every day will be different; you just have to look for opportunities to point out the science in the world around them.
Learning science by journaling – A form of science can be found in almost everything we do. To help students began to recognize the presence of science, allow them to create a nature journal. Journals can be used to create hypothesis, document research, analyze observations, and brainstorm educated guesses about what will happen in the future as seasons change.
Younger children and visual learners can document what they see by drawing or sketching. Rubbing leaves, identifying patterns, comparing color variations, recording sounds, etc. Kids can also create their own experiments and document the results.
Science experiments – Don’t be intimidated by science experiments. There are many experiments that can be done using regular household items. Just remember, if you are trying something new, consider testing it in advance before you introduce it to your child. There are many books, websites, and YouTube videos with great ideas for experiments.
Science curriculum – The SDA Homeschool Blog’s science curriculum recommendations can be found here.
Science in the kitchen – Cooking with your homeschool student is a fun bonus. Although we may not realize it, baking and cooking are both science, and we experience chemical reactions in our food everyday. Cooking with your children will help guide the dialog around what is taking place within the food and why the outcome occurs.
Here are a few fun cooking science books that we enjoy:
Science with technology – technology has given us extra resources that we can use in our homeschool classrooms, such as DVDs, apps, board games, YouTube videos, and computer games.
Consider looking for videos that will help reinforce a concept you are teaching. Many libraries have DVDs that are free to check out. For example, Schlessinger Science Library is a series of DVDs we enjoy, and it even has questions to go along with the DVDs.
Whenever you want to get your child to practice a new concept, make it fun. Using technology is great practice. Here are a few science-friendly apps that you can incorporate into your teaching:
- The Human Body by Tinybop (Just like we teach our kids the names of their body parts when they are little, we can continue to teach them their entire anatomy and physiology. This app makes it easy to identify and name different parts of a person’s body.)
- Kid Weather (Perfect for the early pre-k years: A kindergarten student and his meteorologist dad to help kids learn how to dress for the daily weather created this app.)
- Like That Garden (This app helps users identify local plants. Take a picture of the plant, and the app with tell you its name.)
Science can be found in all subjects. Taking time to document our changing world helps students realize that nature and science are all around us. Science is a changing environment that can be observed, studied, and manipulated. God has given us a vast world, and we can learn so much about Him and His magnificence when we take time to study it. I love how Romans 1:20 states, “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.” So, homeschool parents, what are some of your favorite ways to teach science in your home?
(1) Why STEM Education Is Important For Everyone. (n.d.). SciencePioneers.org. Retrieved September 4, 2016 from http://www.sciencepioneers.org/parents/why-stem-is-important-to-everyone.