10 Ways To Expose Your Child To Science

My children have a healthy interest in science and here is a list of ways to encourage their love of science. With an encouragement of STEM interest, hopefully you can find something to challenge them.

1. Read Books
If your child loves dinosaurs, space, animals, human body or other scientific related topics, books are one of the easiest ways to get them started. There are plenty of information books with pictures available in the market and libraries. They are usually well illustrated with details.
wow human body 1

Since gifted children tend to retain information well, you may want to read the books ahead to understand the topics. I couldn’t name more than 4 types of dinosaurs when I started out, but getting encyclopedic books on them helped immensely. I also found out there were different periods, such as Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, and the types of plants found were different. I also learnt that there were many categories of dinosaurs.

All these information came in useful when my son came up with dinosaur charades for me and with my new found knowledge, I managed not to embarrass myself and could hold conversations with him on the topics. Do take note that some of the books may contain wrong information, which sometimes get pointed out by my son. This is especially so with story books based on dinosaurs. The illustrators sometimes get the pictures wrong (e.g. 3 fingers for T-Rex instead of 2), or dinosaurs in wrong time periods. Nevertheless, story books with a science focus do provide another level of enjoyment.

For older children, there are plenty of magazines on science. There are also memoirs by explorers, such as those who went to the Antarctica.

2. Watch TV programs – Cartoons
I know some people do not watch TV, but I have found many TV programs that do provide interesting science knowledge to children.

Cartoons such as Dinosaur Train, Magic Schoolbus, Sid the Science Kid and a very old one, Once Upon A Time: Life are extremely informative. They explain how animals migrated in the past, how reversible and irreversible changes work, how photosynthesis work and many other concepts. With songs and animation, they are useful for children. For children who are unable to read yet, this would be a good source for them.
3d fondant dinosaur train cupcakes 1

Do check your local programming. These shows are also available on YouTube or as DVDs. My children love to pop the DVDs in themselves and watch the cartoons.

3. Watch TV programs – Competitions
Apart from cartoons, there are game shows involving children or teenagers. One that I have watched with my children is Lab Rat. They conduct interesting and wacky experiments and hold competitions to challenge the students. Sometimes the students are given challenges to explain concepts. These are more suitable for older children who could benefit. I have also seen local competitions where students from various schools pit themselves against the others.

4. Watch TV programs – Documentaries
National Geographic and Discovery channels have a lot of documentaries. The newer ones are more exciting and entertaining. We get to see a whole range of endangered animals from all parts of the world. With time lapse filming, we get to see how plants grow, how carnivorous plants catch their prey, and how ice bergs melt. With deep sea filming, we get to see angler fish and other deep sea creatures. With drone filming, I expect to see even more fantastic scenes in the future.

5. Buy Science Sets
There are science sets which can be bought from educational bookstores. They sell magnets, physics experiments, circuit boards, dissected animal models and quiz cards. They provide hours of fun and entertainment. We have tried digging for dinosaur toys that had been in caked blocks.
dino excavation 1

There are also books that show you how to do volcanic eruptions at home with simple ingredients. I wish I am more adventurous in conducting science experiments at home but I am too busy.

6. Surf the Internet and Use Apps
There are many great websites that teach science concepts at home. You can do simulations by manipulating various factors.

There are free and paid apps that teach you acceleration, galaxies, fusion and more. You could even buy a magnifying glass and attach it to your smartphone to see closed up views.

Cartoons and TV programs have internet related games and information available too. PBS has a lot of games too.

There are many online courses available. They have colourful animations that teach the concepts and children can complete the tasks. Sometimes they have a reward system that unlocks games for a certain period of time. That serves as an incentive for some children.

7. Keep Animals and Plants
Zoology and botany are big parts of science too. Depending on your comfort level, you could keep various animals. I have had friends who kept caterpillars and let their children observe how they go through chrysalis to transform into butterflies or moths. There are others who grew edible mushrooms. Tell them about the life cycles. My husband loves to breed fish. Point out their markings and explain how they are different from other breeds. This will help to hone observation skills.

It is easy to grow bean sprouts. Just get a few green beans, cotton wool and just water them. For younger children, you could just grow them. For older children, you could conduct experiments by having controls and variables for sunlight and water.

8. Visit Science Fairs, Science Centres and Natural History Museums
I am sure there are science centres in your area. Let your children explore science in a fun manner. Some places could have telescopes where you could view stars. There should also be natural science museums where they have all sorts of animals and plants. Point out the different skin textures on animals that had undergone taxidermy.
big cats

There are also science fairs where children display their experiments. Makerfaire has a global outreach. I have seen virtual reality, hologram, hovercrafts, robot cars at a recent local Makerfaire.

life hack

My children have also tried their hands at fixing Lego blocks at science exhibitions, digging for dinosaur fossils.

9. Attend Science Enrichment Courses
There are many science related courses, such as coding and chemistry. Some conduct experiments too. I do not have to clean up the mess and the course providers will take the child through various scientific topics.
fixing lego robots

There are numerous short courses available during school holidays at the local community centre, so I usually pick up the brochures and let my son decide which one he would like to join.

My son had attended a food science course that got them to make jelly, observe the changes in light due to refraction, estimate weight among other things. He learnt about mixtures and solutions. In another course, it was about dinosaurs, but the knowledge he had far exceeded what the course provider had.

He had recently asked for regular science classes. There is no science as a subject in lower primary in Singapore, so I guess I need to look for enrichment centres that do not focus so much on following the school syllabus, but those that conduct interesting experiments and expose the children to everything about science. At the same time, some of the materials I have seen are too simplified. I wonder whether there are science enrichment courses that cater to gifted children.

When he was younger, his enrichment centre incorporated simple science lessons such as using magnets.

10. Use Scientific Language
Start to ignite your child’s interest by asking good questions. Observe weather patterns. Identify the various types of clouds. Ask what happens. Get them to observe. Get them to think about cause and effect. Actually, many gifted children are already asking tonnes of questions. Use the right words if you know them. Don’t be afraid to use various terminology such as acceleration, metamorphosis, and chlorophyll. The children learn quickly. Don’t settle for words such as ‘thingy’. If you have to, use a reverse dictionary to get the right word.

This is part of a blog hop by Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page on All Things Science. Check out other blogs too!
all things science

Cannot Walk After Having Fever

After days of high fever, El woke up one morning and his legs gave way when he stood up. For the next few hours, he was unable to walk. We thought his legs could just be numb and massaged them to improve blood circulation. It was slightly better but he complained of pain.

He was walking with a spastic gait, similar to others with extremely weakened muscles and stiff limbs.

I was quite worried because someone I know said her son also woke up and could not walk suddenly, and the condition seemed to be very serious.

We finally took him to the hospital in the afternoon. It took us many hours to wait for his turn. His pain got so bad that I had to carry him from place to place.

The doctor asked a couple of questions and then pressed his legs and calves to check out the pain. He was ticklish and the doctor thought he was joking. She continued to press the muscles and he complained of pain in those places.

I think she ruled out Zika or dengue since he did not have blood shot eyes or rashes.

She sent him to get an X-ray taken just to rule out any injury to the feet. She also got him to take Ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. He later had his blood tested.

While waiting, he set up his own Class Dojo class that summed up his experience.
kkh classdojo

A nurse also got him a wheelchair which was too big for him. He was sliding down.
wheelchair

Someone else asked for a smaller wheelchair for him. He was actually having fun pushing himself around.
small wheelchair

After an hour, she saw him again and he said it was not so painful.

I briefly saw a diagnosis that started with ‘m’ and the paper was taken away. After googling ‘child cannot walk after having fever’, I found out that he should have acute benign childhood myositis.

Apparently, some boys aged 6 – 9 may get this after a bout of fever. Most recover without any other issues after three days of not being able to walk or having a spastic gait. I read other cases online, and they seemed to mention their boys recovering after three days.

Thankfully, he did recover after three days and was able to walk.

Unfortunately, he suddenly had severe vomiting after. He puked at least 5 times before he went to the hospital again.

He was given medicine to stop the vomiting and then an enema to move his bowels. Not sure exactly what happened but he was fine after this.

That was the first week of the June holidays. Gar had high fever as well. I suspect they got their fever from the dentist, who was coughing away when she saw them.

In the second week, We went to see an ENT specialist for both El for his sensitive nose and Gar who had very bad impacted ear wax, and it cost us more than $1k for all the medical bills.

Nature Themed Music Class @ Trehaus

The moment we stepped into the holiday music class held at Trehaus, at Claymore Connect (just beside Orchard Hotel Singapore), Gar hid behind my back and refused to show his face. Trina, the music teacher, allowed me to stay with him until he was comfortable.

Oh no, was Gar acting up again and refusing to participate in lessons, just like his taekwondo class? After a few minutes, I managed to move him in front of me.

The lesson was about nature and percussion instruments. Trina introduced the various instruments to the children, and reinforced what they had learnt previously, which Gar had missed. To get Gar more comfortable with the class, she put the instruments such as wooden blocks and triangle right in front of him, and he took them and explored them.

She also read stories to the children, and used different instruments for various seasons. He enjoyed hitting the tambourine and was able to beat it in a rhythmic manner.

autumn fall

They were also taught the concept of forte and piano and also 3 beats. Apart from nursery rhymes, she also introduced Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, to increase their exposure to classical music.

playing the tambourine

To the tune of Mulberry bush, they sang and moved around by hopping, skipping, running and walking. Gar was slowly warming up, and he answered the teacher’s questions. He also started participating more actively.

playing the triangle

He needed to go to the loo, so I brought him out. When I asked him whether he was confident to go back in on his own, he said yes, but told me to stay outside and not go anywhere else. I assured him and he went in on his own. Yay!

rain drop music class

It was great to see Gar gain his confidence since Trina was quite patient and encouraging.

exploring the keyboard with the teacher

After the class, I asked whether Gar enjoyed the class, and he said yes as he relaxed on a bean bag.
gar bean bag

There are two more sessions in the June holidays! Check out the details at Trehaus website.

They will be playing the ukelele and xylophone in subsequent lessons.

Note: We were invited to the music class.

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