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Your middle schooler and science

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By GreatSchools Staff

How can you help?

Children learn through hands-on activities. By questioning, seeking answers, gathering evidence, and recording results, middle-schoolers can build on their natural curiosity. But it's important to make sure that activities are connected to a scientific idea or concept. In addition to guiding the learning process, you can help your child develop enthusiasm — all that's required is your own interest and excitement in the project.

At home

  • You may not realize you already have a science lab in your home — your kitchen! Everything about cooking has to do with science, including how heating food can change states of matter. For more food science ideas, check out The Exploratorium's list of kid-safe experiments.
  • Take a weekend field trip. Zoos, aquariums, planetariums, nature preserves, and tech museums offer various programs and events for the younger set.
  • Science fairs, whether local or national, are a wonderful way to help your middle-schooler tackle scientific concepts with a hands-on project. Science Buddies is an online science mentoring organization that can help your child find fairs and create a project for competition.

At school

  • Ask the teacher or principal what key concepts are taught in science class and how hands-on activities and experiments are connected to those concepts. TryScience has a list of 10 questions parents should ask their child's school as well as links to other resources that will help you understand what is and is not offered through the school.
  • Ask the principal about the training of the school's science teachers. Research shows that the best science teachers have a science background. How is the principal trying to attract such teachers? What professional development opportunities are available to teachers to increase their knowledge? Are there ways for teachers to collaborate with more experienced colleagues to plan lessons or improve their teaching strategies?
  • Does your school lack equipment because of funds? Organizations such as RAFT in San Jose, Calif., offer kits, equipment, and help with teacher development through donations and partnerships with tech companies. Check with your local science center to see if there are similar organizations or related companies in your area.
  • Volunteer to assist with classroom activities such as special projects and field trips or offer to lead a lesson yourself if you have a background in science or technology.

Comments from readers

"Not only Science teachers but more activities between schools for scientific porjects, expositions, science fairs."
"This article is right on the money. After teaching science for 20 years our new Governor forced us to 'teach the test'. That doesn't work! Since organizing your thoughts, being precise, accurate, and detailed in your presentation of data is so important I spent time teaching my middle schoolers how to write and present a paper. If you a unable to properly share your findings your research will be of no benefit to anyone."
"Very good article. We need good Science teachers stressing the Scientific Method.Observing, recording, classifying, recording, graphing data and comparing results."
"this is a great artical i think you should post the study guids for there next test it would help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!;]];]];]]"
"this is great ideas for my science so i can pass it. i want to learn more can you please email me more input about science."
"Thank you for the report. It was very useful and had great links for help."
"A good addition to the math help and also relevant to this article would be to add a science help unit on the front page."
"This is a great article! We have been looking into an MST middle school for our son, as opposed to a humanities magnet. This article convinces me that the MST would be better suited to his interests. Thank-you!"