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What Should Children Do When They "Do Science?"

Introduction

This webpage provides early childhood educators with information and resources developed by California University of Pennsylvania and partners with grant funding from PNC Financial Services Group. There is more information about the PNC Grow UP Great with Science project at Cal U on this webpage. Follow the links below to access science activities and resources for early childhood science education.

Science Activity Ideas for Early Childhood Learners

These science activity and resource wepages are organized by Pennsylvania's Early Childhood Learning Standards (2009 rev). The activities were developed and presented by Cal U faculty, students, project partner staff and invited experts at the teacher workshops or family field trips. These workshops and field trips covered specific themes so not all EC standards will have activity suggestions. Some activities are ready to use while others will require some adapation in materials or procedures for your specific circumstances.

Life Science

Environment & Ecology Science

Physical Science

Earth Science

Science Inquiry

Designing a Solution to an Everyday Problem (Technology & Engineering Design)

Science Teaching Strategies for Early Childhood Learners

These science teaching strategy wepagse provide research-based, best practice suggestions on how to teach early childhood learners science. They are organized by the science teaching strategy.

What Should Teachers Do When They Teach Science?

What Should Children Do When They "Do Science?"

 

Engaging Children in Science Activities

If you were to watch children engaged in high quality science activities, what would you see? Imagine observing one of the best teachers in one of the best classrooms with children who are curious and motivated to participate in science activities. What would the children be doing? What would they say? What does high quality science engagement look like?

This webpage is devoted to describing the characteristics of high quality science engagement in early childhood classrooms. It is focused on the child. Please go to this webpage for information about the science teaching strategies that teachers use to facilitate this engagement. This webpage is organized by the characteristics followed by a short descriptions and resources for working toward this level of engagement in science activities.

Ask Questions to Trigger Student Discovery

 

Children Are Engaged with Real Objects and Materials

 

Children Observe and Record Data

Children use all of their senses to observe the world in which they live and then record their observations through writing, drawing or verbally explaining what they observed.

 

 

Children Practice Explaining Their Observations and Thinking

Children practice explaining the things they observe or thoughts about those observations.

 

Children Practice Making Predictions

Children think about their observations and then describe what would happen next. Prediction isn't a guess. It is a reasoned expectation based on observed evidence. For instance, if a child is given a bucket of water and puts a ball, a wood block and a plastic toy in the water and observes that they float. Then before they put a wooden popsickle stick in the water they are asked to make a prediction (float) and describe why they think it will (because it is made of wood and wood floats).

 

Children Practice Asking Science Inquiry Questions

After observing a science activity children become curious about what they observed. Children then explore futher by forming a question that they can investigate. For instance, after observing balls rolling down a ramp they might ask, "I wonder what would make the ball roll further across the floor." This question lends itself to the child exploring further by changing different things about the ramp and balls to see if they can make the ball roll further. This is a science question that arrises from the child's natural curiousity and leads to child-directed systematic changes and observations to see if it worked.

 

Children Practice Investigating Science Concepts and ideas

The ideal science activity is one in which the students own' questions are explored through systematic investigation. One common aspect of experiments are the repeated trials the conditions are changed. For example, If a child wants to find out what makes a ball go the greatest distance after rolling down a ramp they could change the height of the ramp to three different heights. Then at each height they could roll the same ball down the ramp and measure how far the ball rolls across the floor.

 

Children Practice Using Evidence to Support Conclusions

One of the characteristics of high quality early childhood science is when children use evidence and data to support their conclusions.

 

 

 

Last updated: July 1, 2013

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