What is the difference between a scientist and a child?
A good scientist or science teacher usually uses something entertaining and spectacular to demonstrate and engage students. It is the first step in the scientific approach: observation. Observation entails looking more closely at the world. Interestingly enough in children’s play we often see the same thing. Children are enticed by every little thing they see (everything is like a demonstration for them- spiking curiosity. But it tends to happens when we are in a hurry). They often tell us about those observations:
Leila aged 3 “When I eat a carrot, I eat the first bite with these two teeth” (pointing to the front two- but in these times sticking your hands in your mouth causes instance pause and hand washing time).
“When I'm in the bath for too long my hands change” Me: yup, they look like prunes!
“When I put my head in the water I can’t hear you” I'm sure someone can explain why but you can find that in another blog.
And my favorite of all: “Mom, your belly is fat”
Leeor aged 5 “ Is thinking when I have pictures in my brain?” Me: Yeah, kind of!
“Mom, you have fat boobies.(yup, another one of my favorites)
Tom aged 9 drew a picture of me for my birthday (So sweet)! He drew himself saying “Happy Birthday”. Next to him is a picture of me and I'm saying in a text bubble” thanks, but I'm tired” Better to call that an observation then a criticism (although, this age is when they begin to become quite critical- make sure not to respond or be upset- they are doing “science” and observing out loud!)
Observations are fabulous because they are the first step of the scientific method (keep telling yourself that to survive this period). After the observation comes the inquiry- asking good questions- followed by the experimentation. And now you are doing science.
For children it works similarly, because they look, ask and play. Sometimes they don't ask an adult but they definitely asked themselves. (sometimes it seems like they go directly into experimentation without much consideration but I have noticed that most times they have some sort of question they need to figure out immediately). The amount of time they question is shorter than scientists (I hope)!
Example: That tree is high, I want to be up there with that bird chirping and see from high up, I start climbing the tree, realize it's really hard to climb that tree and cant get up to the first branch, so I bring a chair and then I am able to reach and climb.
Observation: Saw the bird and was taken aback by the height!
Inquiry: Hmm can I get up there?
Experimentation: I try to get up and I can't (experimentation fails)!
New Inquiry: Could I do it with that chair?
Experimentation: Hauls over the chair and climbs the tree, the bird flew away but could successfully see from up high.
This example is also really good for explaining risk assessment but that's for another time.
As they get older the way they see the world will excite them less but observation is key. Continuously ask questions about what they see and what they think. Sometimes, they don't have to know the answer (mostly because you don't, so you just leave it at that hoping they don't ask more questions. Oh, and make sure to look it up later just so you don't feel like an idiot. Also, stop being so hard on yourself - you are allowed to say these three words: “I DON'T KNOW” but then... make sure to look it up later.)
Lauren Blasingham- Pack Ben- Shoshan, is a great friend, educator and Rabbi, has written a curriculum for these upcoming weeks among many other stories, useful parenting tips and recipes(she has four kids). Luckily she has shared it with me so I won't go insane (thank goodness). Here she has given permission to share her Observation Journals for your kids to fill out.