“Kids are intuitively scientific thinkers. Our job is to encourage this natural process of thinking and learning.” At our latest General Meeting, we welcomed speaker Sharon Farrell, who inspired us to find the scientific process in all aspects of the world around us and our little ones. Preschoolers, especially, are consummate scientists: their insatiable curiosity makes them determined explorers; their sense of wonder about the world makes them astute observers; their fearlessness makes them creative experimenters.
At LCP, our little scientists are constantly using ALL five senses to explore their environment. They determine and classify items by such qualities as color, size, shape, odor, texture, pattern, weight, pitch, frequency, and/or flavor. They communicate their discoveries with one other, sharing their interesting observations, and captivating adults with their infectious enthusiasm! Here, students are using tweezers to explore the finer details of a sunflower, and they appear to be pretty fascinated by their findings!
Our sharp little scientific thinkers are also experts at asking questions and manipulating their environment to change one variable at a time in order to answer their specific questions. Here, they explored the intricacies of powdered paint on melting ice, discovering how the colors mixed, how the powdered paint became liquid as the ice melted, and why painting the ice made it disappear faster!
Our teachers are invaluable facilitators in the scientific process, asking questions to help kids explain their observations, make predictions, and design their own experiments to test their ideas and come to new conclusions. Some of our favorite guiding phrases include:
“What would happen if…”
“What do you think?”
“Let’s find out!”
“Let’s do the experiment!”
Ice castle creations are not only fun and beautiful, but are also an opportunity to investigate the effect of salt and liquid watercolor on ice. This captivated look is the mark of a perceptive observer and true scientist!
What happens when you mix white glue, borax, and water? FLUBBER! Mixing these ingredients, our LCP scientists investigated changes of state and matter. They molded, stretched, bounced, and pushed the Flubber through baskets to see what physical changes would occur. They also experimented with gelatin and watercolor-filled pipets. They squeezed the watercolor into the gelatin and watched in awe as they saw how the color dispersed through the substance.
Our burgeoning scientists are also learning important safety rules about taking special care around sharp, hot, or otherwise potentially dangerous objects.
LCP scientists really enjoy exploring the world outside, expressing their love and appreciation for nature. On our nature hike, they used magnifying glasses to get a closer look at the wonderous outdoors. They searched for bugs, found a spider, and experienced the changing temperatures and colors of Fall. Their enthusiasm for the natural world encouraged them to ask questions, look for patterns, and communicate their observations.
One budding scientist noticed this leaf’s icy façade and, after attributing it to the works of the magical Jack Frost, he came to this insightful conclusion: “I guess it was so cold that the dew musta froze!”
However, as Sharon reminded us, the scientific process is not limited to the Science Center and its activities! The creative thinking skills required and fostered by science can be found in all areas of preschool! Kids are excited every Monday to discover what new material fills the sensory tub. Whether it may be colored rice, oatmeal and spices, or warm bubbles, our preschoolers find new and interesting ways to observe, interact, and experiment with the sensory substance each week. They measure with cups and spoons, fill with funnels, mix with spoons, all while feeling with adept fingers and smelling with keen noses.
Each week also brings new playdough to investigate and manipulate, with its many colors and textures. Our scientists experiment with mixing, rolling, cutting, forming, building, and hiding objects inside. They make models to better understand how things work, creating smaller versions of real-life objects.
Scientific thinking has been linked to school success. The ability to form logical connections between ideas, think critically, and use evidence to support conclusions are all very valuable skills. It is our task as parents and teachers to encourage these, as well as the verbal and written communication skills required in the scientific process, so that our enthusiastic little scientists will become the BIG thinkers of tomorrow.