I love teaching elementary and middle school science, but always had this underlying fear that, because I’d forgotten the details from college biology and nearly everything I learned in physics class, I was somehow misleading my students. A fear that knowing the content I was teaching them was not enough. I had to be a super scientist.
This is not to say that you can know nothing about the topic you are teaching. You don’t want to tell your 2nd grade math students that they should always put the bigger number on top when they’re subtracting and set them up for confusion later on. But you don’t have to be able to actually send a rocket to the moon to know enough about the moon to share knowledge and, more importantly, the passion and excitement to guide and protect a student’s sense of wonder.
I read this amazing zen pencils post and knew I wanted to share all of the science work I’m doing with my now two-year-old daughter so that maybe other parents at home would feel comfortable sharing science with their little tykes. You do know enough to help your toddler have meaningful science experiences!
I read this great post by Peggy Ashbrook on the National Science Teacher Association blog that helped me get my head around this project and define what was missing from the Google searches I was conducting. Toddlers are supposed to be exploring or, unofficially, messing around. They get a set of materials and play, or see how the materials can be manipulated. You can’t do investigations (guided explorations) or experiments (structured tests) if you don’t have any background to build on. If you’ve never held a flashlight, how are you supposed to wonder what happens when you shine it through different materials? And you certainly can’t design a way to test which material the light will shine through the most.
I can’t stand the “run around the science museum doing twenty different things in five minutes and remembering nothing” mentality, so each month will have a specific topic to explore. So get ready for a lot of messing around with your toddler! We’re documenting our adventures in our blog and we hope you’ll try them along with us!