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.
- 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.
- 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.