Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Do You Know About Air?

During the research for the Museum's AirWorks neighborhood adults and children were interviewed with the statement, tell us what you know about air. Both children and adults talked about feeling air on themselves such as the force of the air when they placed their hands outside of a moving car. Most of us, in fact, understand that air is all around us, that air blows objects around and that we can feel air when it moves.

You don't need to understand air in order to experiment with it. Read more about exploring the science of air by checking out a previous post here . To read more about what adults and children say about air, read a previous post here. You can find tips for playing in our AirWorks neighborhood here.

This past week, preschool children in our Up in the Air Summer Camp explored air both in the camp and in the Museum exhibits. Enjoy this week's montage of pictures! The hot air balloons at the end of the slide show are pictures taken by one of the teachers a few years ago. Her images were displayed on the wall during one of our "Up in the Air" explorations.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Play with Water and Bubbles!

In everyday life water spouts from faucets, drains from tubs and rains from above. And inevitably, if you are a child it spills! During last week's Preschool Summer Camp children redirected, captured, and controlled water. With multiple approaches and myriad of solutions to any challenge, playing with water and bubbles is discovery learning at its best.

For information about the science behind playing with water and bubbles, click here.

Here's some of the learning and fun we had in the Water and Bubbles Preschool Camp last week.

For information about our Preschool Summer Camps, click here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Invasion of the Insects!

Anderson Pest Solutions brought their Insect Zoo for our visitors to investigate last week. "The Insect Zoo has developed quite a following with our visitors, having first visited in November of 2009," stated Margaret Hanly, Associate Director of Programs for DCM. "We had 305 adults and children at last week's event," she added. Both children and their parents and caregivers showed a variety of emotions from curiosity to disdain, for these fascinating bugs. And what better way to learn about them: up close and personal and from the pest experts themselves!

How do you feel about bugs? Most of us are either squeamish or enthralled (sometimes both at the same time!). At around age 3, children begin to center their play on make-believe. Playtime consists of imaginary scenarios, mixing what they know with elements of make-believe. During this time, an ant on the sidewalk could be an alien monster. Fears may develop as children go back and forth between figuring out what is real and what is imagined. A natural response of parents is to talk their children out of their fear of the bug. Children, however, respond by cranking up their imagination. Now that little ant might rise up and eat them!

The best way to confront fears is to find ways to play with nonthreatening versions of them. Adults and children alike were able to look at, touch and hear about some very interesting bugs. Fun questions being asked or answers being told were overheard. Do insects have teeth? What do they eat? Where do they live? How do bugs talk to each other? We found out that the hissing cockroach in the picture above lives far away from here, in Madagascar, and communicates by forcing air through breathing tubes that produce hissing sounds. Will the hissing cockroach eat us? No way! He eats only vegetation, mostly decaying fruit.

Children investigated bugs further by looking at books and trying on insect costumes.

Next bug invasion is Tuesday, August 24th. Check the Museum calendar for further information.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Make It Move through Play

A child's fascination with moving objects can inspire numerous scientific observations and experimentation with some of the basic concepts of physics. Through active participation with things that move, children gain confidence, make comparisons, problem solve, apply concepts of force and motion, use creativity, work, plan and design.

During last week's Preschool Summer Camp, Make It Move, children worked both individually and collaboratively to experiment with how objects move. We used salad spinners to move paint. We used toy cars and toy trains to observe tracks in water, paint and shaving cream. We even rode a tricycle and pushed a cart through paint and observed the patterns the wheels made. We experimented with inclined planes by rolling items down a ramp to see which one would roll, slide or stay put. We also made our own slides out of tubes and tape. The book, Roll, Slope or Slide: A Book about Ramps by Roald Dahl and Michael Lewis, helped clarify our experiments. Two other favorite stories during the week were Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root and Jill Barton and Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher.

Want to play at home? Stop and watch goods being moved up and down delivery truck ramps. Then go to a park and try out the varying sized slides. Which slide makes objects and children go faster? Why? Have your child move his big wheel or wagon through water. Turn the wheel and watch the path change. Go along for a walk while your child pulls the wagon or rides a tricycle. Is the road an inclined plane? How easy or hard is it to go up the road?

For more information about physics, force, motion and moving objects, read a previous post here.

Want to know more about our Preschool Summer Camps? Camps run weekly through August 20th. Click here for registration information.

Enjoy some pictures from Preschool Summer Camp, Make it Move!