As a kid, I often spent an afternoon after a big rain storm with my brothers tromping down to a local drainage stream to see what the water had washed in. And it wasn't unusual to find us sitting around the kitchen table with our hands coated in a green, oozy cornstarch-and-water mixture, wondering at its weird properties. My parents aren't scientists or university professors, and my brothers and I didn't think of these diversions as science. But they were—and these simple activities, along with the questions and conversations they prompted, have stuck with me into adulthood.
So I am thrilled to be able to help share the same kind of science-based fun that my family enjoyed. Today we kick off Scientific American's Bring Science Home initiative, which will offer 20 free tabletop science activities during the month of May. We hope they will make for easy—and fun—ways to enjoy science at home. Scientific American's editor-in-chief, Mariette DiChristina, whose own experiences doing science activities with her young daughters were her inspiration to create Bring Science Home, describes it in more detail:
We based the activities and material on the National Science Education Standards for children ages 6 to 12 years old—to be undertaken with the help and guidance of an adult—so that they would echo some of the key topics students will encounter in the classroom. Although some concepts can be challenging, we hope they prompt good questions and new conversations. And most of all, we hope it's fun! Veteran science instructor and author Peggy Ashbrook emphasizes that more important than having all the answers is a willingness to work along side children to look and learn together.
The initiative is part of Bridge to Science, Nature Publishing Group's participation in the Change the Equation partnership and the White House's Educate to Innovate campaign. Read more about the initiative in Mariette's "From the Editor" letter in the April Scientific American.
We couldn't have put this awesome project together without the generous and enthusiastic support of true experts in the field of science education. The National Science Teachers Association and their former president and editor of Science and Children, Linda Froschauer, provided wonderful feedback on the project. Science and Children "The Early Years" columnist, author and science teacher Peggy Ashbrook, has given great perspectives on the best way to use at-home activities to bolster learning for the long run. The Dalton School science teacher Molly Josephs contributed excellent insight and authored three of the activities. Finally, the New York Academy of Science's director of K-12 Science Education Initiatives, Meghan Groome helped field an outstanding group of educators to review the activities—that team included: David Allen (science teacher at the Collegiate School in New York City) and his 5th and 6th Grade After-School Science Club, Fernand Brunschwig (professor of physics and science education at SUNY Empire State College), Elizabeth McDonald (lower school science teacher at the Katherine Delmar Burke School, San Francisco, Calif.), Caren Perlmutter (Education Program coordinator at NYAS), Zach Rome (founder and director of The Schooba Academy, New York City), and Gloria Brown Simmons (middle school science program developer in Monmouth County, N.J.). We are very grateful for all their help and support.
Look for a new activity each weekday morning this month on ScientificAmerican.com and on our new Education page—and each Monday we'll post a video of an editor doing an activity with his or her kids. We hope you'll teach us a thing or two about your favorite ways to bring science home, too, so we invite you to leave comments below or on Scientific American's Facebook page.