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maptime

When your child "hates science"...

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I need help figuring out what science should look like for my 5th grade DS who has consistently (like from 1st grade on) resisted "doing science".    He says he finds it boring and time-consuming.  Generally speaking he's a pretty interested kid and works on academic things for about 5 hours a day without much complaining, but he just cannot seem to get into science. Up until this point, I've been pretty laid back about formal science in order to afford him more space to explore areas he loves and is passionate about, like history.  But now I'm staring down the barrel of middle school, and wondering when I need to Get Serious About Science in order for him to be well-prepared for high school.

 Right now I'm having him complete one mystery a week from Mystery Science, just to ensure he has at least some exposure to different scientific topics.  He claims it's a waste of time, and that he doesn't learn much new from it.  (This may or may not be true.  His formal science background is scant, but he does read a ton in general).  Part of me wants to just hand him a stack of books and have him read them throughout the year instead.  He would probably love that, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea.   I guess my question is three-fold:

1) For how long can a kid do truly interest-led science and still be well prepared for high school?  My little self-professed science-hater could definitely find science-y books he'd be willing to read, but the topics covered would likely be scattershot.  In the past I've used biographies or the history of scientific discoveries to sneak some science in via his passion for history, but I'm not sure if that alone would provide enough scientific meat.  

2) How important are experiments/demonstrations at this point? 

3) This might be my most burning question.  Any recommendations for high-interest science books written in a narrative style that might inspire (or at the very least, prepare) my 10 year old?  

Thanks in advance for your insight!  I love these boards: -)

Edited by maptime

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3 minutes ago, maptime said:

1) For how long can a kid do truly interest-led science and still be well prepared for high school?  My little self-professed science-hater could definitely find science-y books he'd be willing to read, but the topics covered would likely be scattershot.  In the past I've used biographies or the history of scientific discoveries to sneak some science in via his passion for history, but I'm not sure if that alone would provide enough scientific meat.  

2) How important are experiments/demonstrations at this point? 

3) This might be my most burning question.  Any recommendations for high-interest science books written in a narrative style that might inspire (or at the very least, prepare) my 10 year old?  

1) All the way until their first high school level science course. High school courses are introductory level and teach everything "from the beginning."

2) Not. (I have never done them with my kids. I have a chemE and a physics grad student, so it obviously didn't hurt them.)

3)  You could start here: https://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb/

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1 minute ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

1) All the way until their first high school level science course. High school courses are introductory level and teach everything "from the beginning."

2) Not. (I have never done them with my kids. I have a chemE and a physics grad student, so it obviously didn't hurt them.)

I completely agree. Get him a stack of books and let him read whatever he wants. 

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Middle school and often even high school science curricula presume little background knowledge, so interest-led is fine in 5th as long as it's happening. We have a well-stocked public library, so while I did insist on something like BFSU to make sure basic topics got covered, just having the kid read and talk about any kind of science regularly is great. Amoeba Sisters videos on YouTube are a nice supplement, too.

Something like All About Atoms is nice if you want some activities, but a lot of phenomena don't require a special demonstration, just attention drawn to them. Also, if he's a "What if...?" kind of kid, that would explain why he's not getting anything new out of an elementary science book--everything they're telling him, he's already found out by looking and asking.

ETA: Pleased to see I am in good company with other posters! 🙂

Edited by whitehawk
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I have found Ellen McHenry's materials to be absolutely fantastic especially for the 6th-8th grades. Even my science bored/hating students have loved Kitchen Chemistry, Carbon Chemistry, The Brain, etc.

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3 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

1) All the way until their first high school level science course. High school courses are introductory level and teach everything "from the beginning."

2) Not. (I have never done them with my kids. I have a chemE and a physics grad student, so it obviously didn't hurt them.)

3)  You could start here: https://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb/


I actually just finished reading Homeschooling at the Helm, and it’s part of what got my wheels turning.  Thank you for the permission to skip the dreaded demonstrations😂  I think the more time and freedom he has to just explore through books, the greater chance he’ll have of unearthing something intriguing that he can run with. Thank you for the link!  That is a helpful start. 
 

3 hours ago, lewelma said:

I completely agree. Get him a stack of books and let him read whatever he wants. 


He will love this. Thank you😁

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4 hours ago, whitehawk said:

Also, if he's a "What if...?" kind of kid, that would explain why he's not getting anything new out of an elementary science book--everything they're telling him, he's already found out by looking and asking

 
You might be right.  This kid asks a LOT of questions. 
 

2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

I have found Ellen McHenry's materials to be absolutely fantastic especially for the 6th-8th grades. Even my science bored/hating students have loved Kitchen Chemistry, Carbon Chemistry, The Brain, etc.

 

You know, I think I have a few of her units buried in Google Drive somewhere.  I’ll have ds take a look!

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If he likes podcasts, he could listen his way through all the Brains On! episodes.  They are pretty great.  He'd have an awful lot of science knowledge by the time he got through them all.  And if you listen in the car, it's value added time.

ETA: My kids are in grade 5 and 6.  All our science learning has been informal: podcasts, library books, messing around with Lego and other toys, camping, outdoor time and free play.  They have a science demonstration books (Smithsonian Maker Lab) that they've fooled around with on their own time - they received these and a bag of supplies as a gift from a fellow homeschooler.  It really seems to be enough.  I think they are at least a scientifically literate as any  of the public school kids we know, and definitely more scientifically literate in areas of interest.

 

 

Edited by wathe
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If you really want a "curriculum" you could do Noeo Science. It is just reading books and a few experiments from a kit. 

But I'm agreeing with others that reading is fine. 

Oh, and youtube is great! Crash Course Kids, or Netflix nature documentaries, etc. Developing an interest in science would be WAY more important to me than "doing" science. 

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  Most published elementary science curricula really are tedious (and make-work projects for parents).  And I've noticed that several boardies who are themselves professional scientists (lewelma, regentrude, and I forget who else) or have launched kids into STEM careers (8, among others) have taken the informal, organic approach to elementary science.  So I'm going with it, and so far it seems to work.

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I was poking around the NTSA's website and found these podcasts that could be used for creating a science-themed study.( Warning---the podcasts are monotone and uninspiring. I would not have students listen to them.) But parents could listen to them (or read them....just noticed that option) for ideas for discussion and research for their kids. 

https://www.nsta.org/publications/blickonflicks.aspx

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I am a screen minimalist with my kids, but Steve Spangler's DIY Sci show on Amazon Prime (free for Prime) is fabulous. He is great about high interest science. He does great demonstrations and explains the science behind it. We also love How the Universe Works and How the Earth Was Made.

Have you seen these books? They are high interest, give a firm grasp of geography, and are great to pick up and browse through. I and my kids adore them.

https://www.amazon.com/Where-Earth-Atlas-World-Before/dp/1465458646/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=where+in+the+world+dk&qid=1576330384&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Where-Earth-Ultimate-Atlas-Whats/dp/1465402454/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=where+on+earth+dk&qid=1576330437&sr=8-2

https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Weird-Earth-DK/dp/1465468919/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=where+on+earth+dk&qid=1576330474&sr=8-4

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I suspect the issue isn't that he hates science, but the science curriculum. Every science curriculum for elementary&middle grades I have encountered seemed to be a colossal amount of busywork that makes science look like it's mostly a memorization of vocabulary words.

We did no systematic textbook based science studies until highschool. Before highschool, we read non-fiction books, watched documentaries, visited nature centers and science museums, talked about natural phenomena on our nature hikes. 

Demonstrations and experiments? Never did any before high school science labs. Totally overrrated. Whenever I succumbed to the idea of offering a "hands-on" activity, my kids groaned and asked why they couldn't just read about it in a book. Indeed, why not.

Lest you think we're not a science minded family: both my DH and I are physics professors. DD has a degree in physics. DS is majoring in physics. Seems like our approach to science was completely sufficient.

ETA: My main goal for science before highschool is to keep a mindset of curiosity alive. Science is about observing and asking "why"-questions.  So, cultivating observation of nature is the first step, and then asking the questions and digging for the answers. I see no need for a systematic coverage at that age. 

Edited by regentrude
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You would have to do some reading on this, but he might actually like the Charlotte Mason way of doing science.  

https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/teaching-science-subject-by-subject-part-12/

https://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/curriculum-guide/individual-graded-subjects/living-science-books/

https://pennygardner.com

https://charlottemasonhome.com

Very old thread, but good suggestions on here:  

 

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Thank you everyone, for your insight and suggestions.  I had him pick a book off of our shelves to read in lieu of MS, and he happily chose a book about how to survive if lost at sea. While at first glance it doesn’t scream “SCIENCE!”,  I do believe it catalyzed at least as many questions about the world around him as a morning making a roller coaster out of pennies would have.  

In the end, he asked if he could extend his reading time.  Thank you for the push to follow his lead in this.  I think we’re on the right path. 

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Totally agree with the PPs, though I myself didn't believe it when my kids were younger I do now.  My dd took AP chemistry her freshman year of homeschooled high school.  I taught her the octet rule and other chemistry topics from BFSU, but honestly I don't think anything really stuck.  And besides, here is the prerequisite for AP chemistry at PAH:

Who Should Apply:  This class is open to 9th through 12th-grade students who have completed one year of high-school chemistry and Algebra II. Students must be self-disciplined, well- organized, and able to schedule a minimum of 10 – 12 hours a week for the course, not including lab work. Note: The first-year chemistry requirement can be waived for students who have exceptionally strong math skills and the ability to apply math to solve complex problems.

Fortunately I emphasized strong math skills in elementary and middle and I think that served her well.  Also, I think strong reading skills are very helpful, though I don't see that discussed much.  

Since your student enjoys reading, I might also recommend National Geographic and Scientific American.  Lots of really interesting stuff there, and he'll be well prepared for high school.  Enjoy!  

 

 

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I did all interest-led science with my youngest through 8th grade. She read books she was interested in and did Science Fair projects. It was tons better than any curriculum and better than anything I might have tried to pull together. If I had another one coming up, I would totally do that again. 

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