Like all toddlers, Becca is instinctually a scientist that is fascinated by the world around her. She is always trying to figure out how things work or determine where things belong. I often find that her investigations of an every day object will engross her for hours at a time while her fancy, battery operated toys collect dust in the corner.
- A cell phone rings and she begins to run around the house frantically searching for it *sort of like her mom*. When she manages to locate it, she will then run up to the owner (my husband, my MIL or myself) and proudly hand it to him or her. It is amazing how often she manages to match the correct cell phone with the correct person.
- As I am filling up her sippy cup, I knock it over and it manages to soak the counter and quickly drip onto the floor. As I am grabbing for a paper towel to soak up the spill, Becca is eagerly hunched over it poking at it, mesmerized by how the liquid moves at her touch.
- Becca discovers a ziploc bag filled with pencils. She spends the next 1/2 hour or so taking the pencils in and out of the bag. Sometimes struggling to line the pencil up properly and get it situated on correctly with the other pencils but completely engrossed in her task.
On a regular basis, Becca (and many other toddlers) are informally practicing the scientific process and perfecting the ability to make scientific inquiries. It isn’t necessary to buy any genius tapes or purchase any special products. Instead, I just need to engage with her and support her as she explores her world. Without any flashcards or outside intervention, Becca is naturally developing the inquiry skills recommend by the Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering.
In order to develop this process, the Center recommends that students do the following:
- ASK A QUESTION ABOUT OBJECTS, ORGANISMS, AND EVENTS IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
- PLAN AND CONDUCT A SIMPLE INVESTIGATION.
- EMPLOY SIMPLE EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS TO GATHER DATA AND EXTEND THE SENSES.
- USE DATA TO CONSTRUCT A REASONABLE EXPLANATION.
- COMMUNICATE INVESTIGATIONS AND EXPLANATIONS.
So the next time that Becca rips my make-up bag apart and smears lipstick all over her hands, my purse and her car seat, I will remind myself it is just part of the scientific process. I will then ask her to explain what her original hypothesis was (lipstick shows up better on mama’s white purse then on my grey car seat) and ask her to explain what her investigation revealed (mama’s face does get redder than her lipstick).
At the rate we’re going, Becca should be receiving the Nobel Prize before she reaches kindergarten. The question is: should she apply for early admission to MIT now or would it be better for her to wait and compare her scholarship monies before making a decision? I’ve heard that Rutgers has some amazing science programs.
What is your scientist up to?
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