Apologies for my long absence! I’m not in regular contact with my computer, although I’m making a concerted effort to do better. I have been busy over the past year developing, amongst other things, an after school science program for my beautiful friend Marg, who runs an Out Of School Hours and Vacation Care program in Warnervale.
Developing science programs for PreK-6 students is not unfamiliar to me. I’ve done this in different capacities over the last 20 years, and love creating and pulling together lessons that get kids excited to explore various science topics! However, coming up with intriguing, hands-on activities that can be tailored to a group of students who range in age from 5 – 12 years, who have just finished a 7+ hour day at school, who are tired and ready for a nap OR are ready to unleash a days worth of pent-up energy – that’s a bigger challenge!
As science communicators, whether teachers, parents or specialists, what we want to be able to do in the early years is inspire students to simply love science and the process of finding things out. The content, in my humble opinion, is secondary at this age. Students should be excited to ask questions, make predictions, use their senses to make discoveries, and share what they have learned. They should feel supported in their efforts, and secure enough to go out on a limb and make mistakes.
If a child is particularly excited by facts, that’s great! However, let your students know that having a go is more important. If they aren’t willing to have a go, then learning facts becomes very difficult.
So After School Science Club involves a certain amount of controlled chaos! The activities are always hands-on, and while some may be familiar favourites, many are sourced from science suppliers both locally and overseas, and some are even hand-made, so there are always activities the students have never seen before, making science a little more enticing! Students are encouraged to explore and think, and if they want to run out for a snack and come back in 5 minutes and explore some more, that’s quite OK. If they can only manage 10 minutes, that’s OK too. Some weeks, they may want to run around on the field instead. But they all know that they are welcome to join the science lady anytime on science afternoons!
I leave you with a website I stumbled across when I was searching for make-and-take science ideas. Toys From Trash has an amazing number of activities which use recycled materials, so fun science doesn’t have to be expensive science! While the science content is limited, this site is a great springboard for recycled craft ideas, and with a little research, the science behind the activities is not hard to find.
Remember safety first, and always supervise your little people when doing science. Besides, they’ll have more fun if you do it with them!