Monday, April 30, 2012

Week of the Young Child: Provider Open House

In honor of the dedication and hard work of early learning professionals, DuPage Children's Museum (DCM) hosted an open house for them on Wednesday, April 25.  This is the third year DCM has hosted the event, which is co-sponsored by the YWCA Childcare Resource and Referral. 

Shadow play

Fun with Flight demonstration
Student-designed water table, 
equipped to show flow & function

After arriving at 6pm, the early learning professionals played in the Museum neighborhoods, interacted with exhibits and staff and attended a program titled, “Fun with Flight,” presented by Chris Barry, our School Programs Manager. 

In addition, our guests were able to see work from our professional development series: Teaching Science Right from the Start, a program sponsored by PNC bank and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

By 9pm we closed the doors on the event, hopeful that we rejuvenated and inspired the very people who work to enrich the lives of our children each day.  Thank you to all who attended.  We will look forward to seeing you again next year! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Week of the Young Child: WeGo Together for Kids

Connecting our Community...Strengthening our Families 

The mission of WeGo Together for Kids is to address the health, safety and well-being of students and families through a collaborative, coordinated and comprehensive approach for West Chicago schools and community. The vision is for all members of the community to support each other in creating an environment for growth, wellness, safety, happiness, and wisdom (West Chicago Elementary School District 33, 2011).

On Tuesday evening, DuPage Children's Museum (DCM) partnered with WeGo Together for Kids to offer a program for children in preschool through second grade titled “Everyone is Special.”  While parents attended a program called “Building Social Emotional Skills in Your Child and Yourself,” DCM staff engaged children in literacy and art activities that focused on our similarities and differences.  Special emphasis was placed on what makes each one of us special.  

For this activity, DCM consulted the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) standards on Social Emotional Learning. The program touched upon the ISBE goals of developing an awareness of personal identity and positive self-concept, demonstrating a respect and responsibility for self and others as well as using social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.  

At the end of the program, several children enthusiastically stated, “I am special because…” and filled in the blank while sharing their artwork with peers, volunteers and parents.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Week of the Young Child

This week marks the 41st anniversary of the Week of the Young Child

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) first established the Week of the Young Child™ in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children's success in school and later life. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child™ is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs (NAEYC, 2011).

At the Museum, we are celebrating with a week full of activities for families, teachers, children, caregivers and everyone working on behalf of our children.  Below is a taste of what has been happening so far.   
Touch a Truck with Naperville Park District 
The wind was blowing and the crowd formed in the Whole Foods parking lot on 75th Street in Naperville. Children, caregivers and families lined up to see some of the biggest and best utility vehicles in the area. This was an exciting event where children and their families simulated driving a fire truck, took an imaginary ride on the Naperville Trolley and played with some of DCM’s portable exhibits.

Play to Learn funded by DuPage Community Foundation
Staff in our Programs Department traveled to Villa Park for a presentation on play, followed by interactive family play and learning. Parents were presented with information about how they can facilitate learning through play in the Museum, with their preschool program and even in the home environment.    

Stay tuned for more reporting on DuPage Children's Museum and celebration of the Week of the Young Child

Friday, April 20, 2012

Preschoolers Explore S.T.E.M.: Forces of Nature

Children can discover forces of nature through their senses long before they may explore them in a classroom. DCM’s Preschool S.T.E.M. series explored several forces with hands-on, minds-on, full-body experimentation and made discoveries about centripetal force, gravity, friction and magnets.

“Hold onto my hands and spin me around!” Children love the feeling of their feet flying up into the air as a parent spins them around. They do not realize they are experiencing centripetal force. In our S.T.E.M. class, children experienced centripetal force in motion by mixing paint in a salad spinner.  The paint flung to the sides of the spinner making a beautiful work of art.  By the end of the class students knew that centripetal force could overcome gravity as they kept loads of shredded paper in a bucket spinning over their heads.

It is easy to help children feel the impact of friction by rubbing their hands together. In class, children had the opportunity to feel the effect of friction when parents pulled them on blankets of satin or wool over differently textured surfaces.

DCM's Extending the Force
exhibit encourages exploration
with a magnetic field

Capitalizing on exhibit components in the Museum’s school programs, many different magnet explorations were available.  Children discovered new facts about magnetic toy trains and large powerful magnets.  Through designated activities and illustrations, children learned about magnetic poles and magnetic fields as well as how magnets are able to attract and repel. Some were surprised to discover that 
magnets were powerful enough to lift cars in a junkyard.   

Young children learn through their senses--one of the best ways to explore natural forces in our world. Many creative connections were made in our S.T.E.M. series. Pedagogical tools for experimenting with important science concepts were offered that even brought math and art into the mix.  

This week's post is written by Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Specialist for DuPage Children's Museum.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Preschoolers Explore S.T.E.M.: Play with Simple Machines

Simple Machines are so simple a child can use them – and understand them. Exploring them was a perfect beginning point for our Preschool S.T.E.M. series of classes. Wheels, levers, screws, wedges, pulleys and inclined planes are found throughout your house. When children begin to understand how simple machines make their work easier to do, child’s play grows into science, technology and engineering.
Children take wheels for granted until they try to move a heavy object. In the class, we asked children to slide heavy boxes along the floor. Then we set the boxes on top of a series of thick dowels. With these acting as rollers, the boxes rolled smoothly along their surface. The benefit of a round wheel was tangible. The class explored the need for axles in the center of wheels by connecting round papers with brass paper fasteners called brads. Connect any two pieces of paper with a brass paper brad and you have a wheel and axle.

Another simple machine, an inclined plane, was used to help the children lift the heavy box onto a table. However, lifting is not the way that children usually connect with ramps. Children are familiar with seeing ramps outside of buildings and in parking garages. Ask your child how you would get the car to the top if there wasn’t a ramp!

Levers are another simple machine that the class explored. Seesaws on playgrounds used to be a familiar introduction to levers for most children. When they went up, their friend’s side went down. Children still intuitively use objects as levers to lift or pry open things.

You can explore many simple machines at the Museum, including Ramps & Rollers and the Archimedes Screw Ball Lifter in Make It Move and the seesaw in Math Connections. See what other simple machines you can find on your next visit!

Children build and experiment with inclined planes in our Make It Move Neighborhood.
Simple machines are so simple that we use them without considering their vital role in the world of S.T.E.M. Look for future blog entries on DCM’s Preschool S.T.E.M. series that explore forces in our world.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Preschool S.T.E.M.

People use S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts every day of their lives. Babies practice S.T.E.M concepts, whether they know it or not. When toddlers sit in a high chair and drop messy spoons, they are exploring gravity. Like all good scientists, they repeat the experiment over and over again, to see the results.

It is natural for four-to-six-year-olds to experiment in their daily lives. When too many ice cubes are placed in a glass of soda, the result is a messy discovery, demonstrating displacement. When magnets are used to display art on the refrigerator, children are introduced to magnetic principles. To encourage science exploration, ask open-ended questions. “What do you think will happen if…” is a very important question to ask your children. An open-ended question requires no right or wrong answer, but simply asks for a suggestion. “What do you think will happen if you put the magnets together?” “What do you think will happen if you put the big block on top and the small block on the bottom?” These questions spur self-initiated experiments and discovery.

Children experience centripetal force in many ways.
S.T.E.M. concepts for children have been at the core of DuPage Children’s Museum exhibits and programs since we started in 1987. Our first exhibit, Ramps and Rollers, is still one of the most popular areas in the Museum to play and learn. S.T.E.M. has always been present in the programs that we take out to local schools. In addition, we have added a S.T.E.M. series of classes at the Museum for children ages four to six. These popular classes invite science-loving children and their supportive grown-ups to explore their way through simple machines, centripetal force, construction engineering and other elements of basic physics. Look for details about the specific classes in future blogs.

Children use levers for fun and business
This week's post is written by Marcia Z. MacRae, Interdisciplinary Specialist for DuPage Children's Museum.