Science is all around us. From the direction the wind blows the trees to our reflections in a window on sunny day. Science is an invigorating and exciting experience for educators, families and children. It is a hands on piece of learning that promotes community, cognition and communication.

What Is Science?

“Science is both a body of knowledge that represents current understanding of natural systems and the process whereby that body of knowledge has been established and is continually extended, refined, and revised.” (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007, p. 26)

In the Early Years Framework, science is fundamental to all learning outcomes, most notably, the notion that children are confident and involved learners and that they are connected with and contribute to their world.

 “Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.” [EYLF, pg 35]

However, science is much more than just a process or experiment. It is a meaningful, flexible and ongoing learning experience that can be learnt through play or intentional teaching methods, and embedded in everyday programs. Science is at the core of many of life-long learning skills. 

 

By simply asking open ended questions, educators and families can be involved in the scaffolding of children’s scientific learning.

Here are some easy starting points to begin the scientific thought process:

-          Story time can be a great way to assist children to become curious and enthusiastic about the scientific word. Why not point out the environments represented in the books you are reading and ask open ended questions about concepts such as weather and the seasons?

-          Cooking experiences provide opportunities to explore mathematical concepts, chemical reactions and the earth to plate food journey.

-          The outdoor environment provides an extensive amount of opportunities for exploration and play based learning in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Life cycles of animals, water pouring and measuring, windy days and weather changes, worm farms, planting and growing vegetables, bubble blowing, dirt patches and sand pits are all great ways to immerse children in scientific play.

 

We know that children are naturally curious about the world around them, so by immersing them in environments full of resources and experiences that encourage risk-taking, problem solving and scientific experimentation, important cognition and discovery takes place.

 

 “Children who have a broad base of experience in domain-specific knowledge (for example, in mathematics or an area of science) move more rapidly in acquiring more complex skills…. children have a natural proclivity to learn, experiment, and explore, they [maths and science] allow for nurturing and extending the boundaries of the learning in which children are already actively engaged. Developing and extending children’s interest is particularly important in the preschool years, when attention and self-regulation are nascent abilities.” (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2001, pp. 8-9)