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Well, our 18 yr old didn't spend time in those sorts of activities. She was a curl up w/a book or sew a project or knit or play kind of kid.

 

She has also been the most "unsure" when it came to choosing a future career/goal. She enjoys lots of things. Before deciding upon occupational therapy assistant as a career goal (which is finally one that I think fits her personality to a T and she currently has a part-time job as caregiver for a severely disabled teenager and she really enjoys interacting w/him), she considered master chef, bio-chemistry, forensic chemistry, pre-med.......the list goes on. ;)

 

I actually think A.V.A.'s answer is probably accurate.

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If I had to characterize our science education at home, I would say the most important thing is an attitude of wanting to understand the world. If we come across something we can not explain, we stop mid-dinner and go look it up. It is an attitude that is not restricted to scientific facts - we get the globe and look up locations that come up in conversation; we look up authors, chemical substances, political figures.

Our kids are used to all things having an explanation. They know why the microwave works, how a car works. We do not inundate them with information - but the atmosphere is there: if we don't know something, we can find it out.

I find this the most important thing for scientific literacy.

People who are uneducated about science usually do not care how their bodies, their medications, their devices and the universe work. They accept that these are things they don't know and do not bother to ask the question. IMO, changing THIS attitude is what is necessary.

If hands-on experiments can awaken this kind of curiosity in children, they serve a wonderful purpose .

 

If I could put curiosity and critical thinking into a vial, I'd lobby for mandatory inoculations.

Great discussion.

 

Excellent point. My older boy is currently learning chemistry and his textbook almost gives him more questions than answers. He is writing down all the questions that he comes up with throughout the week, and then we spend 2 hours on Saturdays finding answers to them. But he MUST have the answers. He cannot really learn and understand the material without digging a bit deeper, satisfying his curiosity. Questions like: Why is Sulphur a solid? It should form a diatomic molecule like oxygen which it is directly under on the table, and then be a gas at room temperature. This is a really good question and unfortunately not all that easy to answer. But it is the questioning that is key. Not being willing to settle for the unknown.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

 

I think this is where I am coming at it from a different perspective. I don't feel any pressure to formalize science education prior to high school. Science definitely takes a significant part of their school day (typically 45-60 mins of reading from the books they have selected plus their research/writing assignments on the weeks that science is the focus), but it isn't "formal." No vocabulary lists. No tests. No labs. Just lots of reading and lots of talking and some research.)

 

(One thing I will say, though, is that we as a family value "thinking." We love strategy games and play them for hrs every week. I also focus on developing critical thinking skills and cognitive development. Workbook education is a no-go here.)

 

I don't think our approaches are actually very different. For elementary and logic stage science:

 

Similarities: no tests, no vocab, relaxed time frame with no strict requirements, interest-driven topics, and rabbit trails

 

Differences:

1) I pick one big topic per year as guidance, you don't.

2) My kids ask one question and investigate it formally over 2 months, yours ask questions throughout the year and investigate them informally

 

For high school science we both use a more standard approach.

 

I have talked to a lot of people about science both in person and on this board, and I will tell you that this self-driven, passionate, *independent* research and investigation is NOT common in kids. Mine don't have it. *You* are creating an environment that fosters it. And I smile to myself that you think you are doing nothing.

Ruth in NZ

 

I have to wonder if it is more likely to do with what is not going on at 8's house. I think these days most kids are so consumed with electronics, pop culture, peer infatuation, etc. that there is little time left to become immersed in learning as a lifestyle. Do most kids even have hobbies anymore?

 

I don't know 8 personally, but I do wonder. My kids aren't in front of the TV all day. They aren't carrying around phones, texting all day (of course...they're young, but they won't be doing this as teens either). They aren't playing video games or lolling around bored and whining that there's nothing to do. Well, I take that back. They do get bored. Then they get sick of being bored and get back to their current hobby/project or on to a new one. But they're not curing their boredom with vices and I wonder if that is the secret, not purposefully fostering drive but purposefully keeping vices out of the way.

...

 

Yes, I think this is part of it, but I do think it is more complex. There are many kids with lots of free time that just read novels and don't develop scientific interests like your son has. IMHO, there are many subtle things going on in all scientifically minded families (or in all families with scientifically successful children as in 8's home).

 

I think that there are a lot of newbie homeschoolers who want to do right by their children when it comes to scientific education, but are baffled as to what to do. You've read the posts. They don't like the curriculum, the experiments all go wrong, the kids are not learning anything, the kids hate the textbook, the sonlight videos are all that really get done, etc. They need a more detailed list of things they can do. Giving their children space is a start, but more ideas are needed.

 

There was a parenting book that I read once that said "all behaviours are encouraged," including both good and bad behaviours. So how do you encourage and discourage scientific behaviours? For example in my home, I say things like "that is an interesting question. How would you figure it out?" or I bring up science that is in the news, "did you hear what happened at CERN today?" I have general excitement not just for the science that is happening at our house, but also for the science that is going on in the world. I also talk a lot about probability and how it makes answering questions so much more challenging. And I make "challenging" sound like a wonderful thing, like the best game ever. I think that one thing that limits science in my house is the fact that it is so small (700sq ft and no basement, attic, shed, or garage). I do not have room for lots of equipment or for half done projects to sit around. I can see a different home with crystals growing, bread moulding, the microscope set up in the corner, salt water being evaporated, a fish tank bubbling away, a deconstructed motor lying around, rocks tumbling etc. This just can't happen in my house, and my kids know that I am precious about my new carpet. :D But seriously, it inhibits any messy scientific endeavours. What I do instead is encourage them to do their scientific investigations outside.

 

 

Ruth in NZ

 

First a bit about us. We are somewhat new to homeschooling with this being only our third year. My older kids were never homeschooled. My last "real" job was as adjunct chemistry faculty at Texas A&M.

 

We are similar and different to what has been posted.

 

As a family we discuss everything----political, cultural, scientific, economic, mathematical. I have always given my children correct, somewhat age-appropriate answers (explanations would deepen if follow-up questions were asked) to scientific questions starting as soon as they could ask the questions. If I didn't know an answer I would research it, so they saw me modeling "let's look that up" from a very young age. We never "dumb down" any of our discussions!

 

The kids didn't watch tv except for Bill Nye and the like. And that was only when I was preparing dinner. They still don't watch much tv, dd12 in fact doesn't watch anything.

 

We play games together, all forms of strategy games, from spatial games like Blokus, word games like Scrabble, and more traditional strategy games like Settlers of Catsn and versions of Ticket to Ride.

 

Argh I'm out of time! I have to take dd17 on a college visit! I will return later this afternoon to discuss how we "do" science with a tinkering dd12 who also has a passion for Science Olympiad.

 

Sorry :tongue_smilie: Quoting and editing takes forever on an iPad!

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I have to wonder if it is more likely to do with what is not going on at 8's house. I think these days most kids are so consumed with electronics, pop culture, peer infatuation, etc. that there is little time left to become immersed in learning as a lifestyle. Do most kids even have hobbies anymore? Many of my friends' kids do not and they wonder how my kids can entertain themselves. I'm completely baffled by that question, frankly. My DS9 is the tinkerer scientist, so he's the one I talk about in all the science threads, but DD immerses herself in writing and crafts, crafts, crafts. She spends hours making crafts to decorate our house for holidays, minor ones included. She's worked on a paper pumpkin garland for the school room for the greater part of the day. It's lovely. :)

 

I don't know 8 personally, but I do wonder. My kids aren't in front of the TV all day. They aren't carrying around phones, texting all day (of course...they're young, but they won't be doing this as teens either). They aren't playing video games or lolling around bored and whining that there's nothing to do. Well, I take that back. They do get bored. Then they get sick of being bored and get back to their current hobby/project or on to a new one. But they're not curing their boredom with vices and I wonder if that is the secret, not purposefully fostering drive but purposefully keeping vices out of the way.

 

Anyway, I wonder if it really is just so simple as letting kids' lives be calm, easy, and unfettered, allowing enough of a vacuum for drive to develop without interference. Just thinking out loud...

 

If I had to pinpoint an answer, this would probably be it. Self-entertainment is incredibly under-valued and unfortunately, in our society, almost non-existent amg children. But it really is one of the back-bones of our parenting philosophy. I have posted numerous times about deliberately not filling my young kids' days w/ structured academics b/c I strongly believe that imaginative play is actually more important for cognitive development and higher order thinking skills.

 

For example, we have a very, very bright 2 yr old who wants her mind engaged all the time. She also wants to be entertained. (and see, from my perspective, being entertained is mental laziness. ;) It takes far less effort to be entertained than to entertain oneself.....hence a culture of couch potatoes and video game addicts.) Our current battle is helping her realize that she must entertain herself. (she has a will "stronger than steel" (maybe spiderman is in our family history:lol:) I have btdt w/multiple strong-willed toddlers and once they learn how to entertain themselves, they are so much fun to observe. They have all played differently, but watching their little "gears turn" really offers so much insight to their personalities and how they think. (I love parenting. Kids are so much fun and fascinating!)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I think this is where I am coming at it from a different perspective. I don't feel any pressure to formalize science education prior to high school. Science definitely takes a significant part of their school day (typically 45-60 mins of reading from the books they have selected plus their research/writing assignments on the weeks that science is the focus), but it isn't "formal." No vocabulary lists. No tests. No labs. Just lots of reading and lots of talking and some research thrown in.

 

 

Ahhh, thank you so much for your post, the above is something I really needed to read this morning! I don't know why it is, but sometimes when things are going smoothly, I wake up in the middle of the night worrying that we aren't "doing enough" :glare: Last night it was science and history.

 

But you know what? We are doing fine. :D

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There was a parenting book that I read once that said "all behaviours are encouraged," including both good and bad behaviours. So how do you encourage and discourage scientific behaviours?

 

So now it is your turn to try to explicitly describe how you create the environment that encourages your son's natural inclination. Your first suggestion is to make space; let your "kids' lives be calm, easy, and unfettered, allowing enough of a vacuum for drive to develop without interference." Can you come up with 3 more?

 

Ruth in NZ

 

All behaviors, good or bad, are encouraged. Yes. Absolutely. But I kind of agree with 8 that I, as a mother, do not specifically encourage scientific thinking. It's more that I respect my kids as individuals and encourage independent thinking at all. I encourage them to have an interest in something. I want my kids to have hobbies, so I encourage their interests when they strike upon something I see as beneficial to them. But I have never told them I want them to have a hobby. I've never said to them that they need to find something to love. I just encourage it when they do.

 

OK, here's the thing. I do specifically encourage scientific thinking--during school. We do inquiry science. We use a question board. We discern whether our questions are testable or research questions. We devise tests. We do real inquiry studies and keep science notebooks. Like many homeschoolers on these boards struggling with science, I am not impressed with the curricula available. I worked at a lovely science museum when I was in college and led field trip groups through inquiry-based activities, so I knew what science could look like, that it could be so much more than textbooks and demonstrations, so I went my own way. That job was a blessing to me. So, maybe I'm more open to it because I saw it work, pretty painlessly at that.

 

But here's the thing: when the kids go their own way after formal science time (which is pretty informal for something called formal science time but whatever :tongue_smilie:), they go their own way. So, the fact that I encourage scientific thinking in school is not making scientists out of all three of my kids (so far anyway...again, they're young). They are each learning to think like scientists, for sure. It's got value. But DD still returns to her pumpkin garland and glue gun, DS9 returns to his codes or tinkering/science, and DS6 returns to...mostly Legos and Zometool right now but he's still evolving interests of his own. He and DD are quite into making houses for stuffed cats and kittens at the moment. And vehicles. :lol:

 

Anyway, they each return to their own place of interest and I honor those interests by supporting them emotionally, intellectually, physically, and financially. DD is very into crafts and I keep her knee deep in supplies. I want her to have some independence and autonomy in her hobby, so as long as it's safe and not horrifically messy, I allow it. I look for books and tie-ins to stretch her thinking. If she wants to make that stretch, great. If not, it was offered. So far I have successfully stretched her crafts into cooking via cake baking and decorating, science via the production of bath products for gifts (and maybe by wiring a dollhouse for Christmas...we'll see), math via embroidery of geometrical designs and origami... Who knows what else is to come with her. She loves animals and really wants to volunteer at a shelter but is too young yet, I think. But I will honor that interest when she is old enough and help her find resources to support that. (Ideally, I'd like all my kids to be veterinarians. That is a joke. Sort of. :tongue_smilie:)

 

DS9 is into science and tinkering so I keep him supplied in yogurt cups, tp tubes, etc. I've purchased science kits and then give him the ingredients of the kits to do with as he pleases. I save every single interesting piece of anything that could be used in his projects. I have purchased countless science experiment books and helped him set up a lab. We have still not set it up after our move though...need to get on that...waiting for the weather to cool. He showed interest in guitar last year, so I signed him up for lessons, downloaded the Beatles 1 album on his iPod :D, keep him in new music books... Likewise for swimming, we found a swim team, we talk to him about stroke technique, improving time, etc.

 

Anyway, I almost hate to say this in a discussion about encouraging scientific questioning but when I look at my kids' interests and hobbies, I don't view science as a more important, superior activity. To me, the most important thing is that they have something they own and love to think about, to keep them curious and actively thinking. I encourage deeper interest in things that improve the soul, science included.

 

Well, our 18 yr old didn't spend time in those sorts of activities. She was a curl up w/a book or sew a project or knit or play kind of kid.

 

She has also been the most "unsure" when it came to choosing a future career/goal. She enjoys lots of things. Before deciding upon occupational therapy assistant as a career goal (which is finally one that I think fits her personality to a T and she currently has a part-time job as caregiver for a severely disabled teenager and she really enjoys interacting w/him), she considered master chef, bio-chemistry, forensic chemistry, pre-med.......the list goes on.

 

I actually think A.V.A.'s answer is probably accurate.

 

She sounds like me. I was going to be a lawyer, speech therapist, teacher, nurse, architect... I think my best friend in college was terribly worried that I would never decide. I spent my weekends outlining different course load sequences for every major of interest to me. :tongue_smilie:

 

If I had to pinpoint an answer, this would probably be it. Self-entertainment is incredibly under-valued and unfortunately, in our society, almost non-existent amg children. But it really is one of the back-bones of our parenting philosophy. I have posted numerous times about deliberately not filling my young kids' days w/ structured academics b/c I strongly believe that imaginative play is actually more important for cognitive development and higher order thinking skills.

For example, we have a very, very bright 2 yr old who wants her mind engaged all the time. She also wants to be entertained. (and see, from my perspective, being entertained is mental laziness. ;) It takes far less effort to be entertained than to entertain oneself.....hence a culture of couch potatoes and video game addicts.) Our current battle is helping her realize that she must entertain herself. (she has a will "stronger than steel" (maybe spiderman is in our family history:lol:) I have btdt w/multiple strong-willed toddlers and once they learn how to entertain themselves, they are so much fun to observe. They have all played differently, but watching their little "gears turn" really offers so much insight to their personalities and how they think. (I love parenting. Kids are so much fun and fascinating!)

 

Totally agree with this, especially the bolded. I encourage imaginative play. I did not (and still do not) entertain my kids or have them in a ton of activities. Right now we do piano/guitar lessons and swim team. I have friends who put their kids in every sport or enrichment opportunity available but when these enrichment activities take up all of a kids' spare time, they are really stealing what I think is the richest activity of all from kids, which is the time and space I spoke of earlier. I think outside activities can certainly be beneficial, but overloaded children will not have time to develop their imaginations. I know that with my kids, down time was/is necessary to activate the imagination.

 

I know many people who say their kids need all that activity, that they just aren't happy being home for a whole day. Maybe some children are wired for constant social interaction. I don't know. DD is very social but does fine with lots of down time. I had a friend who would tell me in one breath that her son just had to have an activity outside the house every single day or he went crazy and in the next breath ask me how she could get him to play on his own, use his imagination more, show interest in something long-term... Step 1? Boredom. Step 2? Make kid come up with his own cure for boredom. Yes, all behavior is encouraged. :lol:

 

ETA: Even though this is on the logic board, I also wanted to add that one of the best choices I ever made was to decide very early on to mostly buy open-ended toys. My kids' favorite toys...a sand and water table from when they were toddlers, the giant sandbox DH built, wooden unit blocks, play figures/animals (that do not make noise), play stands, sheets and clothes pins, play silks, puppets, play kitchen and accessories (one that doesn't make noise...if the kids wanted to hear a sizzle, they had to make their own sizzle), their wooden marble run, PVC pipes and fittings (one of my best purchases ever!), Legos, Zoob, dolls, cardboard boxes (with butter knives and markers when they got older), lots of tape, crayons, colored pencils, paper... Really, this rejection of toys that are one-trick ponies and reading good books to my kids every day of their lives are probably the two best things I ever did to encourage imagination and curiosity in my kids. And the blank canvas of spare time.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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I've been at my son's music recital for 2 hours, so I have had lots of time to think about science :D.

 

So, I'm planning my book ;), and would like to separate out goals from the method used to achieve them. I am dividing these goals based on general level of intellectual development rather than age, because of course it depends on your child.

 

Elementary level goals

 

Content: Interest driven. There are no requirements for content in elementary

 

Skills

1) Reading: able to read nonfiction at increased difficulty over time

2) Output: able to summarize what has been learned, verbally or in writing

3) Observation: ability to see what is actually there, not what you expect to see

4) Math: at grade level

 

Attitudes

1) Curiosity: "wanting to understand the world"(Regentrude). Including the desire to find answers either through books, observation, or tinkering

2) Enthusiasm towards science (or at least a positive attitude)

 

Middle School level goals

 

Content: Broad overview of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics (this can be systematic or interest driven). High school science is easier if it is not the first time the material has been encountered.

 

Skills (students who already possess these skills by 9th grade will be set to succeed in high school science):

1) Reading: Ability to read difficult text. Ability to interpret graphs, charts, and diagrams.

2) Writing: Ability to write succinct answers to "short-answer" questions including evaluate, interpret, integrate, compare and contrast, critique, etc.

3) Math: at grade level. Including the ability to identify and draw appropriate graphs for the data

4) Logical thinking and problem solving capability

5) Study skills, reading a textbook, organization skills, time management, note taking

6) Scientific Method: general understanding of how experiments are replicated and controlled, how hypotheses are are accepted or rejected (this does not need to be a detailed understanding, although it could be if you want to spend the time doing it in middle school to save some time in highschool)

 

Attitudes

Reinforce 1 and 2: curiosity and enthusiasm

3) Scepticism: "inquire what facts substantiate a claim" (Regentrude)

4) Acceptance of falsification: Ability to reject your hypotheses; to not have your ego tied to your ideas.

 

High School level goals

 

Content

1) Science curriculum, including interdisciplinary topics

2) Current events: including politics, pseudoscience, and ethical decision making (I need to think more about this one)

3) Science careers: understanding the peer review process, variety of methods to answering questions (observational, theoretical, statistical, experimental, etc)(Regentrude), double blind studies (need to think more about this one too)

 

Skills

Reinforce skills 1-5: reading, writing, math, logical thinking/problem solving, and study skills

 

6) Scientific method:

a) Forming a hypothesis and identifying if it is answerable

b) Collecting background information

c) Designing systematic methods to answer a question (including objective measurement, defining terms, and replication and controls if doing an experiment)

d) Identifying best way present data (designing tables, graphs, diagrams)

e) Identifying assumptions

f) Identifying errors, find their source, suggest future ways to prevent them

g) Interpreting data

h) Identifying future work

 

7) Ability to use equipment appropriate to field of study

8) Ability to write lab reports

9) Statistical knowledge including probability and issues like correlation vs causation

10) Evaluation of scientific research (obviously, in only a general way)

11) Presentation skills/public speaking (not required, but an excellent add in if time)

 

Attitudes

Reinforce 1-4: curiosity, enthusiasm, scepticism, falsification

5) Persistence: in the face of failed experiments and the need to try new things over and over and over

6) Honesty: being completely objective while collecting data. The goal is to find the truth, not support your personal opinions (this is often harder than your realize, which is why scientists do double blind studies)

 

 

Ok, it has gotten late and I am getting tired. I am sure I forgot quite a few things, but this is a start. After I solidify goals, I want to identify the many different methods to achieve them.

 

I'm open to suggestions. Additions? Subtractions? Moving things around......

 

Ruth in NZ

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Ruth, I'm glad to hear any updates about your book. :001_smile:

 

For high school, will you go into building competency in practical/lab skills? E.g. for biology, students need to be comfortable using feature X on the microscope; for physics, understand the precision of the instrument you are using and how it will affect the calculation.

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For high school, will you go into building competency in practical/lab skills? E.g. for biology, students need to be comfortable using feature X on the microscope; for physics, understand the precision of the instrument you are using and how it will affect the calculation.

A bit detailed for my thinking right now :001_smile:. But I would love to get around to it.

 

Skills I learned when doing field work in ecology:

How to carry 120 lbs of traps in the desert.

How to pick clean and stuff a dead mouse.

How to sex a canada goose. :ack2:

How to use night vision goggles to tranquilize porcupines from afar.

How to avoid being bitten by ground squirrels that carry the plague (yes, THE plague :eek:) while trying to sex them.

 

Very exciting life, too bad I went into number crunching. :001_smile:

 

Ruth in NZ

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High School level goals

....

Skills ....

6) Scientific method:

a) Forming a hypothesis and identifying if it is answerable

b) Collecting background information

c) Designing systematic methods to answer a question (including objective measurement, defining terms, and replication and controls if doing an experiment)

d) Identifying best way present data (designing tables, graphs, diagrams)

e) Identifying assumptions

f) Identifying errors, find their source, suggest future ways to prevent them

g) Interpreting data

h) Identifying future work

 

I am thinking that this skill set could be started in middle school through the annual science project and strengthened in high school.

For public school, students can get used to the whole lab being planned for them and just doing it. So the earlier they (public/private/homeschool) have exposure to creating their own lab investigation based on their hypothesis the better.

 

It can be started in elementary school level for individual science projects if the student is keen on it. My kids did (a) to (h) for their optional science project for school.

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I would add, at all levels, some work on communicating instructions and observations.

 

Long before the high school lab report, you can work on writing instructions - how to make a peanut butter sandwich, how to change the batteries in the TV remote, how to get to the library - and writing them with enough detail that someone could replicate your procedure without asking you any further questions. Toward middle school I'd start getting picky about accurate measurements and diagrams.

 

Similarly, I'd want to work on communicating observations - and again with accurate measurements and diagrams at some point.

 

The first stab a kid takes at writing either of these too often comes out as, "put sample under microscope and look at it" with results, "I saw the onion cells."

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I'm not going to be terrifically organized here... apologies in advance!

 

We've done tons (TONS) of science. Like crazy people. I generally hesitate to go on about it because I really can't make it sound accessible... it's not accessible. I'm not saying it can't be done - just that what we've done has been the science education for geeks who have gone off the deep end. ;) I don't think less of anyone who doesn't go this way, and unless your kid really is devoted, I would think you were nuts to do as much as we have. So I won't go on about that... lol Suffice it to say we've done a lot, but nothing that I thought wasn't worth our time. I've been very picky about curriculum, and textbooks have made up less than half of what we've actually accomplished.

 

On labs, observation/exploration, experiments, demonstrations, etc. I think they all have their place -- observation is a first step before experimentation. Like the statistical fishing expedition, it can give you ideas, but they need to stand up to a well designed, controlled experiment. Demonstrations and re-enactments of previously established procedures and results are good for practice, and actually I don't have anything against the Mentos/Diet Coke stuff in the right setting (and not too often)... But those should be subject to the same discussion as the less entertaining labs. What do you know (or what can you find out) about Mentos and Diet Coke? What could you test to find out what quality of each of them is causing that particular interaction?

 

For this part:

I would suggest to meet my requirements a lab would require a student to independently come up with a structured, thought-out process (methods) to answer a question, and require a student to independently determine what tables and graphs are the most effective to highlight the data. Even if the question is given, I would like to see students figure out the methods, and not just follow directions. Perhaps it is too much to expect for middle school and high school labs. But for students going into the humanities, it might be their *only* opportunity to see the scientific method in action, so *I* think the study of the scientific method should be required in high school. I would love to hear others thoughts on this. Or examples of scientific method being clearly used in middle school and high school curricula.

I was really happy with Singapore science. There was a bit of that in elementary and middle school books, but a ton in high school, as "practical quizzes". Generally it was an open ended question with several mystery samples provided and free access to the lab materials (some specified, most not) - like "here are four marked vials with different contents. What order would they have come from a human digestive system? (meaning like mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, or whatever) and how do you know?" It relied on knowing what was digested at what point and how to test for each of those things (starches, sugars, fats, proteins). It wasn't entirely independent, since it came at the end of a chapter on digestion and a series of labs with procedures provided, but for the practical quizzes there were no procedural instructions, and the student was expected to report all the relevant data appropriately and refer to it in the explanation.

 

I would also love to hear from some engineers, because my understanding is that they do a lot of exploration and tinkering and very few studies with scientific method. Is this because the answers either work or don't, rather than have a statistical answer?

 

DS has done both science projects and engineering projects... For science projects he started with a question (decided on after lots of reading) and a hypothesis (also informed by that reading), designed an experiment to test that hypothesis, collected data, analyzed the data, and reported whether the hypothesis was correct or incorrect. Engineering projects have a lot of similarities to science projects, but they cycle. So he started with a goal (decided on after lots of reading about things that aren't working quite right) and an idea of what would work (like a hypothesis - he believes that x will meet the need), and then a procedure to build the model and test it, collect data, analyze, and judge whether it worked. Where they deviate from science projects is that when you've judged the results, unless the first model met all your goals you go on to make changes that you believe will improve the design, test them, collect the data, analyze, and judge... and cycle through again. Both versions require identifying and controlling variables, testing one thing at a time, and analyzing results, but the engineering project isn't done until the goal is met.

 

On the question of when... I don't know that elementary vs. middle school vs. high school matters very much for science experiments specifically. I agree with whoever said that the attitude was the important part. It's hard to take a high schooler who has spent their life believing everything they hear, and get them to take doubts and questions seriously and think about what makes a well-designed experiment and what kind of data is reliable evidence of a conclusion. But that's skepticism more than experiment practice. DS has always had science questions, and we've always followed up on them with experiments... and I do think that our history in that regard has really fed his interest and ability, but again, we've gone way overboard. For a good solid science education, I think the skepticism and the interest are the key.

 

Now... I do think there's a certain fluency you get from having done the steps over and over, but the ones that need fluency aren't necessarily the experiment part -- each experiment takes a different procedure anyway, so your mad skills with the flow meter in ecology aren't going to make much difference when your question requires soldering. But knowing how to do a solid literature review (finding good resources, reading critically, following up on questions) and how to narrow down a question to something that requires testing, how to use the literature to inform your hypothesis, how to identify and control variables and write a testable hypothesis, and how to write a procedure to test it... those I think take practice. But basically any field where you have to read critically, argue from evidence, analyze and conclude... all of that will make you a better scientist, even if you never looked in a microscope. Writing procedures is more science-y, but it could be done elsewhere. As I wrote somewhere else in this thread, being able to write a clear explanation of how to make a peanut butter sandwich is much the same skill.

 

One thing I would add to all of this... I think scientific literacy is very much tied up in statistical literacy. Knowing how repetitions change your confidence intervals and knowing how many is "enough"... understanding bias and sample selections... thinking about what and how you're measuring and what it represents... knowing that an average is not always the best summary of a data set... Honestly I would make a statistics class mandatory for high school graduation, if it were up to me. Not just for kids who are going into the sciences, but anyone who needs to understand current events, advertisements, etc.

 

Anyway - sorry to be long and rambly. I could go on for days and days but I think it would just serve to prove that I really am a little nuts, without helping anyone else. :lol:

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One thing I would add to all of this... I think scientific literacy is very much tied up in statistical literacy. Knowing how repetitions change your confidence intervals and knowing how many is "enough"... understanding bias and sample selections... thinking about what and how you're measuring and what it represents... knowing that an average is not always the best summary of a data set... Honestly I would make a statistics class mandatory for high school graduation, if it were up to me. Not just for kids who are going into the sciences, but anyone who needs to understand current events, advertisements, etc.

 

:iagree:wholeheartedly! In one of my college classes, we were assigned How to Lie with Statistics. It was quite the eye opener. I plan to use this with my kids in high school, if not earlier.

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Where they deviate from science projects is that when you've judged the results, unless the first model met all your goals you go on to make changes that you believe will improve the design, test them, collect the data, analyze, and judge... and cycle through again. Both versions require identifying and controlling variables, testing one thing at a time, and analyzing results, but the engineering project isn't done until the goal is met.

 

:iagree:

Unless its a multi-year grant science research project whereby it may be continued by the next undergrad student.

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Elementary level goals

 

Content: Interest driven. There are no requirements for content in elementary

 

Skills

1) Reading: able to read nonfiction at increased difficulty over time

2) Output: able to summarize what has been learned, verbally or in writing

3) Observation: ability to see what is actually there, not what you expect to see

4) Math: at grade level

 

Attitudes

1) Curiosity: "wanting to understand the world"(Regentrude). Including the desire to find answers either through books, observation, or tinkering

2) Enthusiasm towards science (or at least a positive attitude)

 

I think I am biased because inquiry science is a pet project here, but I would not limit exploration to tinkering and tinkering merely to attitudes. My kids have shown a remarkable aptitude for designing real, well thought out experiments from a pretty young age.

 

Regarding content, I honestly think that is going to be a hard sell for most people, even in the elementary years, because of this...

 

I think that there are a lot of newbie homeschoolers who want to do right by their children when it comes to scientific education, but are baffled as to what to do. You've read the posts. They don't like the curriculum, the experiments all go wrong, the kids are not learning anything, the kids hate the textbook, the sonlight videos are all that really get done, etc. They need a more detailed list of things they can do. Giving their children space is a start, but more ideas are needed.

 

It has been my observation that most posters here do not seem to want to step away from a scope and sequence or, at the very least, a content checklist of some kind. Among other resources, I use The Really Useful Science Book for quick self-ed, an idea of scope and sequence, and possible links between disciplines. I think trying to get young homeschoolers started down this road without addressing content is going to be difficult.

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My internet has been down today and now it is too late to comment on all these wonderful ideas. But I do want to address them one by one on (my) tomorrow.

 

One thing to think about when making a list of this scope, is what is the MINIMUM that is required for success, and then for particularly interested or advanced students, move goals forward into elementary. 8filltheheart's comments have influenced my thoughts on whether *serious* study of science in elementary is necessary. Obviously, my family does way more in elementary and middle school because of our large scale investigation. But would you tell people who want to do well by their children that more is *required* in elementary for success at the high school level? This has not been 8's experience. Obviously, 1 person does not make a pattern, but it bears thinking about. I was a successful scientist but did basically no science in elementary.

 

In addition, I want to think about ways to achieve the goals separately from the goals themselves. So for example, developing enthusiasm for science in elementary school could be reached through scientific inquiry and investigations, but it could also be reached through discussion and parental enthusiasm for science in the news. Regentrude's children have not spent large hours on the scientific method until high school level and have obviously succeeded. So to suggest that inquiry is required at a young age for success at a later age does not seem to be quite fair. Certain attitudes are required, I think, but how each family achieved the attitudes can vary. So I want to consider numerous methods to reach each goal at the different ages. Also, I want to seriously consider what are transferable skills vs non-transferable skills. 8filltheheart develops logical thinking through strategy board games; I do it through scientific investigations. The skill is there either way, and then it can be applied in high school science.

 

This is obviously not an easy model to build, but very thought provoking.

 

Ruth in NZ

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I think scientific literacy is very much tied up in statistical literacy.... Honestly I would make a statistics class mandatory for high school graduation, if it were up to me. Not just for kids who are going into the sciences, but anyone who needs to understand current events, advertisements, etc.

 

Absolutely, completely agreed without reservation.

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I am thinking that this skill set could be started in middle school through the annual science project....It can be started in elementary school level for individual science projects if the student is keen on it. My kids did (a) to (h) for their optional science project for school.

 

You must be my twin. Have you seen our investigations this year? http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/showthread.php?t=361740

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It has been my observation that most posters here do not seem to want to step away from a scope and sequence or, at the very least, a content checklist of some kind. Among other resources, I use The Really Useful Science Book for quick self-ed, an idea of scope and sequence, and possible links between disciplines. I think trying to get young homeschoolers started down this road without addressing content is going to be difficult.

 

Nice book. Will think more about the content issue. But my current thought is that there is more than one path to the end goal. The goal is scientific literacy by high school graduation. I think you could use interest-led, light structure, or textbooks for content in elementary and still by fine for middle school material. In contrast, I think you need textbooks for high school science.

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One thing I would add to all of this... I think scientific literacy is very much tied up in statistical literacy. Knowing how repetitions change your confidence intervals and knowing how many is "enough"... understanding bias and sample selections... thinking about what and how you're measuring and what it represents... knowing that an average is not always the best summary of a data set... Honestly I would make a statistics class mandatory for high school graduation, if it were up to me. Not just for kids who are going into the sciences, but anyone who needs to understand current events, advertisements, etc.

 

I think it's especially important for kids who are NOT going into the sciences.

 

(at university) a fair part of our math for liberal arts class is statistics, roughly on the level of 'how to lie with statistics'.

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But would you tell people who want to do well by their children that more is *required* in elementary for success at the high school level?

 

So to suggest that inquiry is required at a young age for success at a later age does not seem to be quite fair.

 

Oh, gosh. Did I imply that I wanted to see it required? :lol: I've been doing it and talking about it for long enough on these boards that I know it's more work than most people want to do in the elementary years. Of course, some people just plain old think that it is not the best use of time, completely unnecessary, etc. Yet many people have shown interest and would want to do true inquiry science in K-4 if they just knew how. I thought that was what your book was going to provide, explicit instruction about how to truly think and behave like a scientist. I'm looking for a mention of inquiry science as possible in the early years--with due consideration given for kids who crave this kind of science--for a discussion of how the procedures outlined for the middle years can also be employed in the elementary years with x, y, and z as modifications.

 

I think 8's and Regentrude's ways of teaching science are both valid and have apparently produced spectacular results. I agree that there are many paths to scientific love and literacy. My path happens to be doing inquiry science from a young age because interest is there, and I think that is a valid path as well. So, I am merely saying that I would hate for a new homeschooler reading your book to get the idea that inquiry can only happen in the later years. As Charles Pearce says in Nurturing Inquiry, "Science may well be the only content area for which all children come to school prepared."

 

ETA: I was just thinking that inquiry in the early years should be included, so it isn't such an overwhelming concept that people are afraid to even attempt it. It's not really as difficult as everyone thinks. What I most looked forward to when you mentioned writing a book was a clean outline of how you do things, not a composite of different ideal methods. I am starting to wonder if soliciting explanations for how others here approach science and incorporating those ideas into your book might actually just muddy up the idea of what you do, which is what I wanted to know in the first place. Honestly, when I read that you were going to write a book, I was so happy that someone was going to take these ideas and make them accessible for homeschoolers--from the earliest years, just as I thought you did it.

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Ruth, I thought you might appreciate this selection from The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery. A.V.A.'s discussion about the Scientist in the Field books jogged a memory and I finally found the quote that was bugging me (or arachniding me. :D )

 

.....When Sam was growing up, he couldn't imagine that science could be this exciting!

 

"I had no idea what it meant to be a scientist or a biologist," Sam admits. "I think my impression was the same as most people's: that science is a body of knowledge, that science is a big book of answers." Science, to him, was about memorizing a bunch of facts--not figuring out new ways to solve mysteries and make new discoveries.

 

"Science," as he understood it, didn't interest him at all.

 

What did interest him was animals. As a little boy he kept a lizard, gerbils, mice, and a rabbit. Then followed frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, bugs....

 

..."Animals are a whole different life form," Sam explains, "and I was drawn to things that are different...I was so curious about how they lived and what they did."

 

...But Sam didn't do well in [college.] He got bad grades even in biology. Until, that is, he had to do a special project in his third yr of college. He decided to do a scientific research project on his favorite animals--tarantulas.....to compare desert tarantulas and rainforest tarantulas: Which ones were more energetic and why?

 

Sam set up his own laboratory. He even designed special machines to measure how much oxygen each tarantula breathed, and at what rate, and at which temperature....

 

"I go so into this, and then I realized: I loved research! And I realized science is really a process. It's not the knowledge the process generates," Sam says. "Once I understood that anybody can do the process, it's very simple--scientific research is just a way of asking a question and answering it. That was the thing that totally changed my life.

 

Sounds like Sam would have loved to have been your child!!

 

FWIW, books like this one infect kids with enthusiasm b/c the scientists love what they are doing and it shows. (far better than opening a dull textbook w/lists of memorized facts b/c they inspire kids to look at the world through their eyes and think about questions like they are asking)

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Ruth, I thought you might appreciate this selection from The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery. A.V.A.'s discussion about the Scientist in the Field books jogged a memory and I finally found the quote that was bugging me (or arachniding me. :D )

 

:lol::lol:

 

Sounds like Sam would have loved to have been your child!!

 

FWIW, books like this one infect kids with enthusiasm b/c the scientists love what they are doing and it shows. (far better than opening a dull textbook w/lists of memorized facts b/c they inspire kids to look at the world through their eyes and think about questions like they are asking)

 

:iagree: Thanks for reminding me of this excerpt. :001_smile: We are about to read the honeybee book.

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A.V.A.'s discussion about the Scientist in the Field books jogged a memory and I finally found the quote that was bugging me (or arachniding me. :D )

 

Now I have to get my hubby to put library holds on the "Scientist in the Field" book series since we have not read this series yet. :D

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Unfortunately, we only have 2 of the series in our library, but my younger son has loved them.

 

And I realized science is really a process. It's not the knowledge the process generates," Sam says. "Once I understood that anybody can do the process, it's very simple--scientific research is just a way of asking a question and answering it. That was the thing that totally changed my life.

 

My ds8 had a similar epiphany during his science fair project. I copied this from my write up in May:

 

As we wander through the woods for 1.5 hours we find more and more things to wonder about with soil, lay of the land, moisture, and vegetation. And then my darling little boy turns to me and says the most profound thing. "Mommy, you could study soil your whole life and still not answer all of these questions." Yes! YES! This is a point that most people NEVER come to. They have never spent 2 months of their life trying to answer a tiny question only to realize that there are so many questions. Each scientist works for a lifetime on one minuscule area of science; most non-scientists just don't ever get how or why you would get SO specialized. Then my ds says, "It makes me feel so small." And I just give him a big hug.

 

You can *tell* people these things, but often they cannot *internalize* them until they have personal experience.

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Ruth, I thought you might appreciate this selection from The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery. A.V.A.'s discussion about the Scientist in the Field books jogged a memory and I finally found the quote that was bugging me (or arachniding me. :D )

 

 

 

Sounds like Sam would have loved to have been your child!!

 

FWIW, books like this one infect kids with enthusiasm b/c the scientists love what they are doing and it shows. (far better than opening a dull textbook w/lists of memorized facts b/c they inspire kids to look at the world through their eyes and think about questions like they are asking)

 

I agree completely!! Miss P loves insects and we are studying entomology this year at her request. She was so inspired by this book, and by the entomologists she has met and talked to! And I think it is so important for kids to see/hear/read about what real scientists - of all kinds - really do is just as (or more?) important in inspiring them to grow up and be scientists as the best-designed curriculum or science activities could ever hope to. Not that curriculum/activities aren't useful in teaching them how science works, and what we already know, but this piece of making the connection between the stuff they are studying and how and what *real* scientists actually do on a daily basis is a huge missing link, IMO.

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  • 2 weeks later...
.

 

Why do you choose to do a science activity?

To explain or elucidate a concept either more thoroughly, more clearly, or more simply than with words

Do you have goals you are trying to meet?

Comprehension of the concept, and practise in the process of scientific investigation - learning how to use science to answer questions solve problems, or dispell misinformation

Do these activities/labs/observations/experiments/demos meet your goals? How do you know if your goals were met?

My goals are not always met. I use lots of ongoing assessment questions to help gauge if they get the concepts, and often have them explain things to me. I also propose "what if" situations to test for understanding.

 

 

Ruth in NZ

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  • 7 months later...

Ja, I realise this is an old thread and I feel like an idiot trying to play here with the big kids.  :blushing:

But I don't usually let that stop me...

 

 

So lets take the investigation completely off the table. Here are my questions: What other ways work and why? I personally think that you cannot figure out if your way will work prospectively unless you know what goals you are trying to achieve and design a course to achieve these goals. So I am back to the question I posed at the beginning of this thread. And this question is for everyone: What are your goals and objectives?

 

I'm teaching a child who has language learning difficulties, dyscalculia, doesn't notice the natural world without explicit instruction and tests as having almost no logic skills.

 

What I'm trying to do with science is:

1. Teach her to care enough to notice things.

2. Put vocabulary in her head.

3. Put content in her head. I think this is a prerequisite for logic skills developing? You can't write a story without having ideas in your head and I think she can't learn much in the way of logical thinking without facts in there to think with? 

4. Teach her how her brain works. Brains are tricky things to manage and there's no getting away from them.

 

 

Anyway, we have chicken bones sitting in a jar of vinegar on the bench at the moment. I guess I will have to expand the project by trialling different kinds of vinegar now. 

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  • 5 years later...
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On 9/17/2012 at 5:38 AM, lewelma said:

x-post #1

 

 

3) If you are running a real experiment where you don't actually know the answer, then the data you get is not wrong. Science is not about getting the "right" answer. If you have replicated and controlled appropriately, then unexpected answers allow you to brainstorm what happened, and why your initial hypothesis was incorrect. This is an exciting time because you have found something new and unexpected. Celebrate and come up with a follow on experiment. However, if in hindsight you realize that you have not controlled or replicated appropriately, then you need to redo your experiment with proper controls and replications. This is also the perfect time to discuss probability and chance. Scientists replicate because they need to average out chance. My little boy once compared different fertilizers to see which cause plants to grow taller. We did not know the answer -- this was real science. We only had 3 replications in each group, so not really enough. One plant by chance germinated 5 days earlier than all others, and then grew taller than all others. This was the perfect time to talk about outliers and chance. Scientists have to deal with this kind of thing all the time. So we also talked about how if we had had 100 plants in each group, then when we took an average, 1 early sprouter would not have mattered that much.

 

 

A thousand times this! I help with a high school Chemistry class at our co-op and I find this is the hardest thing for the kids to understand. “It didn’t work” they will say. Well, no...what you expected to happen didn’t happen. Figuring out WHY is just as (or sometimes more) useful. I always tell them when I grade their labs that we don’t grade on them getting the “right” answer. As long as they did calculations correctly, we grade on how they explain the answer they got. 

On 2/4/2021 at 2:06 AM, lewelma said:

Bumping this to keep it alive.

Ha! I was reading through it and all excited at the topic and then when I read @Penguin post about being in Denmark.....I came up short and was like “wait, what??” Because I was pretty sure she doesn’t live there anymore. 

Its still a great post after 9 years! 

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