For many families, the end of the school year heralds the beginning of flexible schedules and time to let your children be children. However, learning does not need to stop. It’s a great time to dig into family science. One of best ways to start family investigations is to think about science-related questions that your children ask. Do your kids ever ask about insects in the backyard, space exploration or what makes a car move? Use these questions as your inspiration and springboard for investigations! When choosing books for a summer reading program, include a few non-fiction books to read as a family.
Rainy days are an opportunity to start family summer science. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has a regular feature on Pinterest and its Facebook page titled “Saturday Science.” These short, easy to follow science investigations use common items from your home. Take time to ask your children to predict what will happen in the experience or ask them to describe their observations. Reinforce science learning by encouraging children to share their observations from the experience with a family member.
Consider a long-term project for your children to engage them in science throughout the summer. This can be as simple as planting flower or vegetable seeds and observing changes over time. Older children may enjoy a long-term engineering project such as designing a Rube Goldberg machine or building a kite.
One of my favorite parts of summer revolves around warm evenings, which are perfect for exploring nighttime science. For young children, head outside on a clear evening and look for stars and the moon. Ask your children to describe what they see and how the sky is different from daytime. Older children may enjoy a visit to the museum’s SpaceQuest planetarium to learn about the night sky and how they can search for constellations at home.
Family trips are often a highlight of summer for children. Traveling is also an opportunity to explore science not available at home. Research nature parks or science museums that provide new opportunities for your children. Some of my favorite memories include traveling to a dinosaur dig site with The Children’s Museum (check out our website to learn how you can participate), visiting new geologic sites such as sand dunes, visiting a wild herd of bison and traveling underground into a mine.
Enjoy your summer and the opportunities to explore science as a family!