Everyday Kitchen, Household Science makes Learning Fun
Children are best inspired to love science by seeing others’ love of science, and understanding how it affects their lives on a daily basis.
If you’ve ever seen crumbs clinging to cellophane in your kitchen or in a store, you’ve seen science in action and a science – static electricity – that even young children can comprehend and appreciate.
Science happens, just like that, every day, and if you honor the first principle of imparting knowledge – noticing learning moments and capturing them – science can become the meaningful, wonderful, applicable thing it’s meant to be. And few things are more remarkable than science learned in context.
Kitchen science is the most accessible, particularly if you’re homeschooling on a budget. Boiling water for spaghetti? Condensation happens along with evaporation. The matter is changing from liquid to gas. Throw an ice cube in the pot and you’re going from solid to liquid to gas. Play with it, especially with younger children – turn a glass over the steam and watch the gas turn back into a liquid.
Make some Italian dressing and you’re exploring emulsions with density and viscosity. If you’ve got a little glycerin (available at any pharmacy), pour some into a separate glass with oil and water and you’ll have something like a mini lava lamp, with three visibly well-defined densities. Suspend things of different densities in the concoction, like a coin, an ice cube, and a cork, and see what happens.
Wonder aloud as you go. The best way to create interest in children is by modeling it. It’s one thing to tell kids that science is interesting; it’s another more inspiring thing altogether for them to see their parents articulating fascination of cause and effect when they press on the gas pedal. Explain how combustion happens and the car goes.
Being pleased with the successful chemical reactions of a cake done just right is good; discussing the failure of the more unfortunate chemical reactions of a burned dinner, though, can be just as useful.
Garden science also provides an everyday lab. Every seed that sprouts is a science experiment – a response to sunlight, water, and nutrients in the ground.
Bath time offers yet more opportunities for hands-on science as you explore dirt in suspension and the chemical reactions of soap and water.
Everyday Science Resources
There are some great books on the backyard and kitchen science, to help families grasp and explore these moments better. Barron’s Science Wizardry for Kids, by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams (Barrons Juveniles, 1995), is a wonderful volume full of great experiments and explorations using everyday things. The Science Book, by Sara Stein (Workman Publishing, 1980), is another great “science of everyday things” book.
A great website for the everyday scientist is How Stuff Works where you can learn everything from how a vacuum cleaner works to how rockets fly. This site looks at everything from the basics of plumbing to the complexities of computers to medicine and the everyday physics of living.
Appreciating the Wonder of Everyday Life
We take so many everyday things for granted – tooling around in our cars, running clothes and dishwashers, flushing toilets, going to dentists and doctors, watching television, using computers, and flipping light switches on and off. We do these as routinely as we breathe and seldom take time to think about the everyday wonders that make these things possible.
Take a few moments to wonder, and to let your children see you wondering. You’ll not only learn a few things yourself, but you’ll inspire your children to ask questions and, better yet, to stop taking the miracle of being alive for granted.