Friday, February 28, 2014

Science Learning through a Child's Eyes, Part II

This week we continue Science Learning through a Child's Eyes with a focus on older chilren. As children grow, science exploration and learning offers new adventures. Children  begin to master one concept only to start exploring the next. In other words, they begin to explore similar concepts in a different way.

Preschoolers tend to center on only one property of an object. For instance, exploring rocks may be about size or shape or color, but rarely about all three attributes. The preschooler's developing language allows her to share ideas and approach problems cooperatively. You can support the preschooler's curiosity by providing short explanations that extend learning opportunities. Try adding a challenge at the end of your explanation. "That rock is shiny when you shine the light on it. Let's try another rock to see if that one shines too."

The early school-age child prefers to solve problems alone or with her peers. The budding scientist is still curious and is more capable of experimentation and increasingly challenging problems. The rock exploration may now be about exploring weight or adding incline planes for experimentation about inertia and momentum as the rocks slide down.

Engaging science learning can be a lot of fun at home or at the Museum. Visit this blog next week when we share Finding the Science in Play--science right here at DuPage Children's Museum!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Science Learning through a Child's Eyes, Part I

Scientists use their curiosity about a particular problem to observe, test, verify and make discoveries. How does this curiosity develop? Apparently right from the start! Lise Elliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, notes that "psychologists have tracked babies' eye movements to gauge whether they understand such properties as gravity, speed, and momentum. Remarkably, they have found that they do!"

Babies explore through their senses. They look, touch, smell, taste and hear just about anything within their reach. You can learn a lot about your child's natural curiosity by observing his/her play and supporting it. A safe environment with objects of varying textures and sounds provides a beginning science exploration for infants. Their favorite object to look at is you! So spend lots of face-to-face time with them!

Older babies and toddlers continue to explore with their senses but now can explore using their increasing motor abilities. Given time to freely explore their environment, toddlers will begin to sort and classify objects. Provide containers of varying sizes and some everyday objects such as balls, large buttons, pom poms, ribbons, lids and bells. These types of open-ended materials foster cause and effect exploration--that is basic physics.

To engage your young scientist, visit the Creativity Connections Young Explorers Neighborhood the next time you are at DuPage Children's Museum! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

When the Weather Gives Us Cold Temperatures…

Make frozen bubbles!
The weather this winter has indeed thrown us all into shoveling, staying warm, and survival mode!  Rest assured, I am confident that spring is on its way. However, until then, take advantage of the learning opportunities that all of this cold weather affords!

Frozen Bubbles
Using a “sturdy” bubble solution enhances the effectiveness of this activity. Nevertheless, with the amount of bubble solution we make here at the Museum, we often find that no solution is foolproof! Science is what happens when our experiments succeed and fail, right? Never underestimate the thinking and redesigning concepts that come into play when our experiments produce something other than what is planned!

Try this Sturdy Bubble Mix:
3 cups water
1 cup dish soap
½ cup corn syrup

Mix all of the ingredients together and use as you would any other bubble solution.  Take the bubble solution outside and have fun! Depending upon the temperature, the bubbles may fly up into the air as you blow them, freeze, drop, and even bounce. You might catch a bubble on your wand, then watch and wait.  Will it freeze on the wand? How do I determine if the bubble is frozen? What will happen if I touch it? How long do I wait?

The effectiveness of this experiment can depend upon the weather, including the temperature and the moisture in the air, among other things.  This process and inquiry can add to engagement in scientific reasoning.

Try making predictions about your solution, varying the amounts of each ingredient, experimenting, and drawing conclusions based upon the ingredient amounts used. This is the scientific method in action!  Want to encourage more science learning? Continue making your own hypothesis, drawing conclusions, then collecting data about each solution. Follow up by finding evidence that supports your conclusions!

This article also published in Positively Naperville--a local, reader supported, monthly newspaper published in Naperville, Illinois. Positively Naperville has been supported by a great group of local businesses, organically growing four pages at a time since it was first printed issue in September 2001.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Join DCM as we Welcome Sarah Orleans

After 22 years at the helm of DuPage Children’s Museum (DCM), former President and CEO and now honorary founder, Susan Broad, has retired. Broad was DCM’s first hired visionary and led the Museum from its early years of existence in the lower level of the Wheaton Park District Community Center to the roughly 14,000 square foot, three-levels of play and learning it is today! 
At the same time we say farewell, we welcome our new President and CEO, Sarah Orleans. Sarah brings two decades of executive leadership experience, including work at two well-known nonprofit organizations on both the East and West Coasts.

Orleans will relocate to the Chicago region from Portland, Oregon, where she previously held the position of Executive Director of Portland Children’s Museum for eight years. Working alongside an education team internationally recognized for its expertise in early childhood education, Orleans established The Museum Center for Learning, dedicated to research and professional development for educators.

“We are fortunate to have attracted a children’s museum executive the caliber of Sarah Orleans, who combines a deep passion for our mission of early learning for all children with a 20-year track record of successful organizational leadership,” said David Carpenter, DCM Board Chairman.

Orleans has already begun her work with DCM and will permanently relocate to the Chicago region in the coming months.

Please join DCM in welcoming Sarah Orleans!