10 Unusual Ways to Explore Science

by ChristinaPilkington on June 29, 2011 · 0 comments

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I think all kids are born scientists. They all want to explore their world and figure it out from the day they’re born. They ask questions about where things come from, how things work and what they do.  They love to play with water, snow, ice and mud.

Unfortunately for many children, their explorations are often cut short. Suddenly, whether they want to or not, they are told they need to start writing letters and learning to read. They need to fill out math worksheets and sit in a circle. At a time when most children LOVE to make new hands-on discoveries they are confined to a single room for most of the day.

The thing I’m most excited about doing with my children is exploring the natural world in which I live. I’ve bought tons of science experiment books, look forward to lots of hikes, looking at things under microscopes and playing with chemistry and physics kits. I’m hoping the kids will join me for many of my adventures, too.

It’s fun to learn about science from visiting science centers, doing the usual experiments from books, and reading well-written, living books. But science can be so much more than that. Here are 10 unusual ways to explore science. Have fun!

1. AmusementPark Physics.  For those of you with kids who are thrill-seekers, this website is sure to fascinate them. It not only discusses the physics behind roller coaster design, but they can actually build their own virtual roller coaster by choosing the height and shape of the hills, loops and exit paths. The site also has experiments to learn more about the physics behind free-fall rides, carousels, bumper cars and pendulums.

2. How Stuff Works A treasure trove of free science videos with anything from superstring theory, engineering and nuclear power to weather, science fiction and the solar system. You can also peruse articles; the site has a few experiments, too.

3. Skateboard Science Have a son or daughter who loves skateboarding? This site explores the science, specifically the physics, behind skateboarding. With pictures, text and video the site shows how tricks like the Ollie are preformed and the physics behind them. Pretty cool!

4. Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires This site is dedicated to all our hard-working, inventive computer nerds. From outlining the history of the personal computer, to a “pick your computer” game that measures your nerd quotient, this site is sure to please your computer genius at home.  It’s based on the same titled 1996 PBS documentary about how armatures, hippies and self-proclaimed “nerds” changed the face of technology forever. You can watch clips of the show on YouTube or buy a copy of the documentary for around $22-27 dollars on Amazon.com.

5. The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry Author and artist Larry Gonick and Craig Criddle created this clever comic book about the history and basics of chemistry, atomic theory, combustion, solubility, reaction, stoichiometry, the mole, entropy and much more. They also have comic books about the environment, genetics and physics.

6. Engineering Magic A website that teaches several clever magic tricks along with the science and engineering behind the tricks, too. You’ll learn how to perform disappearing milk, piercing a balloon, floating dollar, milk pitcher, egg in a bottle and playing card through watching videos and reading instructions.

7. Detective Science Ever want to learn more about the techniques forensic experts and detectives use to solve crimes? In this book, you’ll do 40 different experiments, including taking and analyzing fingerprints, indentifying blood and detecting counterfeit bills.

8. Virtual Museum A really fun, free online game that allows you to be a detective at the scene of a murder.  You investigate the scene of entry, place of struggle and the crime scene. You need to discover 12 clues; each time you discover a clue and send it to the crime lab you’ll be asked a question. You earn points by correctly answering questions. For older children.

9. National Geographic: Weird Science Take a look at some unusual animals and natural phenomenon like football octopod and the piglet squid, the loch ness monster hoax and shaking frogs.

10. 101 Science Poems and Songs for Young Learners Some kids LOVE music. My son can barely sit down in the car before he’s asking to put some music on. If you have a young child who loves to sing, why not introduce them to some of these science songs? From light and shadow, plants, endangered animals and butterfly life cycles, to machines, weather, hibernation and much more, this book gives you a fun way to combine music and science.  The book also presents some hands-on projects to go along with the songs.


Do you have an unusual ways to learn science? Would you like to receive free e-mail updates whenever I post something new at Interest-Led Learning? Just fill out your name and e-mail address in the box at the upper right-hand corner of this page. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this series of posts. Leave me a comment below or send me an e-mail at chris@christinapilkington.com.

Photo Credit: Adam Baker

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