Grow Your Own Scientist

How do you grow a scientist exactly? Why would anyone want to grow a scientist?

And I say to you, that everyone should be a scientist in one manner or another. Science is in everything that surrounds us on any given day. It is the natural world that we live in. It is the technology that we have developed. Everyday we are bombarded with scientific messages, but if there is a misrepresentation, or a garbling of important bits of information, you will be none the wiser unless you possess a firm comprehension of the nature of science.

Currently there is a deficiency of science understanding among the general public. But by teaching our children basic science concepts, and the scientific method, we can instil in them a fair grasp of what this world is all about. Such an understanding will carry humanity into the future, where we will face environmental dilemmas, economical issues, and whatever else the untold future holds in store for us. We will undoubtedly need scientists, and more of them, not fewer.

So how can we raise our children to be citizen scientists? Easy: start young.

Allow your babies, toddlers and preschoolers the free range to explore the natural world around them. Encourage their natural curiosity and allow them to investigate. Even toddlers can benefit from time spent with Daddy looking at a caterpillar on a leaf, or exploring the effects of a stone thrown into a muddy puddle (-- or even exploring the effects of mud in the mouth!). Provide the youngster with a simple plastic magnifying glass and he'll be occupied for hours, investigating the natural world around him.

As your budding scientists grow older, don't wait to begin a formal science education. Start science young, about six years of age. Begin by furnishing your home library with a plethora of reference books. You should own various volumes of the Audubon Society's Field Guides, and other materials intended for mature audiences, as well as age appropriate science resources. Some good ones are Eyewitness books, DK books, the Lets-Read-and-Find-Out series, and Usborne books, but there are plenty to choose from. Also, stock up on science-materials for your homeschool, things like a magnet-set, a scale or balance, insect collecting supplies, a microscope and accessories, binoculars, a telescope, safety gear, and posters, too.

Formal science education can be approached in a multitude of ways, but the main thing to keep in mind when you're purchasing or creating science curriculum is that science is a hands-on subject. The scientific method dictates that we first study, then question and hypothesize, before testing our theories. Any science program should host plenty of experiments and hands-on activities in order for the students to be able to fully grasp a concept. Don't bother toning it down too much; you'll be surprised by even the youngest learner's grasp on the concepts.

Parents can role model good science skills by staying current on science news: read science publications like Discover, American Scientist, and National Geographic.  Participate in the annual species counts performed by the Audubon Society (you can do a search online for an office near you!), make it a family project.  Continue to explore the world around you by following your innate curiosities, refer to your reference books when you come across something unfamiliar.  Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something -- just go look it up in a book, or online; this will show your children that you're never too old to stop learning.

As homeschoolers we possess the ability to teach our students science in a different way than generations before have learned it.  We can ensure a science understanding in tomorrow's society in the hopes that our children and grandchildren might face the problems of the future with the best tools possible.

Samantha Burns is a self-taught homeschool teacher to 2 sons, and wife 10 years to a citizen scientist. You can visit her website at

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3 Responses to “Grow Your Own Scientist”

  1. avatar AprilS says:

    I think finding fun science experiments is such a great way to get kids involved in science. I remember showing a few of my nieces and nephews the electric pickle experiment and as the pickle lit up, so did their eyes. And they immediately wanted to know how it worked.

    There are all sorts of simple science experiments you can do with stuff at home. Make a science lab day each week and do some experimenting! It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

    My favorite science fair project I ever did makes for a really great, cheap experiment. Find a spot in your backyard where you can bury a bunch of trash. Bury different things like paper, plastic, an apple, aluminum can. Take time to write out what everyone expects to happen, then dig up after a month or two. I actually dug everything up after a month, re-buried it and then dug it up again later. Fascinating!
    AprilS´s last [type] ..8th Grade Math – Subtracting Polynomials

  2. How about having the read REAL Science Fiction?

    That story was published 10 years and 1 month before the Moon landing.

    It is about a prospector finding water on the Moon.

    In the month after the name, October, 50 years after publishing, 10/19/09, NASA bombed the Moon and found water.

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