How do families encourage children to become scientists? They do it by playing with science from a very early age and carrying on conversations. Science discovery takes very little time and can use materials around the house. Have fun making and discussing indoor waterfalls on a rainy day to help add to the three million words children need to hear before kindergarten according the Great Start.
For more fun science check out "Learning Through the Seasons" live on Public Radio 90 WNMUFM Tuesdays at 4:30 and Saturdays at 8:45. Pod casts are available worldwide at wnmufm.org (Listen to PR90) and grandparentsteachtoo.org.
SABIN, DAVIS, HETRICK, ANDEREGG, MACALADY, WALKER, DARLING and KATERS
Water, chopping board, kitchen bowls and a colander.
What to do
Explain that you're making indoor waterfalls before you go to see some real ones in your county. An easy definition is an area of a river or stream where the water flows fast over and around rocks or drops over a ledge. There are many kinds and they can be viewed on Google images.
Explain that you need help finding things in the kitchen to make a tower and pour water over it like a waterfall. Look for non-breakable plates, bowls, cutting boards, and a colander used to drain vegetables or spaghetti.
Experiment making the tallest tower. Start with a cake pan to catch the water. Then layer cutting boards, various sizes of upside down bowls, and plates. The flat materials will help prevent the towers from tipping, sometimes. Place a colander on top, if available.
Now pour a pitcher of water gently over the tower. The most important part of the process is talking about how the bowls and plates slow down the water much like hard rocks slow down and divert water in a river.
Place a sheet of rolled up paper towel between layers of the tower. Does it change the flow of water? Perhaps it does for a short time, but then it will crumble much like very soft sandstone will crumble after years of flow. Notice how the water flows over the cutting board like a ledge waterfall.
These waterfalls can be created in the tub or sink indoors with warm water. They can be created outdoors on hot days with a hose or built at the beach.
Some families like to add food coloring in different pitchers and let colors mix in the cake pan pool at the bottom. Others like to recycle the clean water in the cake pan pool and use the water to nourish plants after clean up.
No matter what you decide to do, the most important part is conversation. Talk while planning the activity, gathering materials, trying different ways to make the tower, laughing when it falls and reconstructing. All this talking teaches social skills and dealing with emotions. Let the activity guide the quiet conversation.
Editor's note: Grandparents Teach ,Too is a non profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. Writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers.Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan (PAM), Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children (UPAEYC), Northern Michigan School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, and NMU Center for Economic Education.