Science can be fun

Story Image

Small wonders

Kids are naturally curious and are full of questions about the world around them. Parents and teachers can help keep that curiosity alive by finding ways to make learning about science fun and engaging. Here are a few ideas that you can use to help your kids love learning about science.

Fun Experiments
Hands-on experiences help kids of all ages grasp concepts and retain information. There are online resources available to give you the tools you need to make hands-on learning a reality.
For example, MyBotanicPlanet.com is a free website with lesson plans and interactive games for students in grades K-5 to explore basic botany and water conservation. Based on the classroom experience offered through the Memphis Botanic Garden, and created by TruGreen, MyBotanicPlanet.com features lesson plans by professional curriculum developers to meet National Education Standards. Students can personalize their own avatar and explore the educational site's interactive games and activities.
The activity and quiz here are part of the new Water Ways curriculum, which inspires kids to be water's guardians. The Water Ways environment features an interactive water filtration game with various difficulty levels and an educational character named Watershed Fred, who helps students learn more about where water comes from and what happens to it when it's out of sight. Learn more about it at www.MyBotanicPlanet.com.

Fun Field Trips
Get some fresh air and a fresh look at nature by going outside. And don't restrict your field trips to sunny days only. You and your kids will be amazed at how different things appear when it's been raining or snowing. Where should you go to start digging into natural science?

Your backyard
-Collect leaf samples to identify, then use them to make a collage.
-Use a magnifying glass to do some ground-level research. Examine insects, plant stems, tree bark, spider webs and interesting rocks. Have your child give an explorer's report on what he or she finds.

Your neighborhood
-Make a game out of identifying the different trees and bushes in the park. Take pictures and leaf samples to help you figure them out.
-Go on a scavenger hunt to a stream or pond. Make a list of items to find: animal tracks, water insects, birds fishing or taking a drink, frogs and toads, even snakes.

Your community
-Visit the zoo. Before you go, have your child check out some library books about one or two of their favorite animals. They can learn some facts about those animals, then be in charge of teaching you about them when you see them at the zoo.
-Natural history and science museums can be a fun way to learn about the world around you. Take advantage of tours, special exhibits and activities geared for children.


Activity
Window on the Watershed
Activity courtesy of www.MyBotanicPlanet.com.
What you need
-A sheet of waxed paper
-A sheet of white paper
-Spray bottle filled with blue-tinted water
-Shallow pan or tray
-Colored markers or felt-tip pens
Roughly crumple the waxed paper. Unfold, and with some pushing and pulling, create a "landscape" with mountains and valleys. Set the waxed paper in the tray.
Let your student spray the tinted water over the landscape to simulate rain. Ask questions like:
-Where do raindrops land first?
-Why do they go where they go?
-Do you see waterways merge as the rain increases?
With rapid spraying, students can create a flood. Show them how "rivers" carry the blue water off the land and into the tray beneath - the "ocean."
Repeat the activity with a sheet of white paper. Have them draw different colored spots of "pollution" on the hillsides with the colored markers. The rain will blend the colors together, showing how pollution affects the entire watershed.


Water Quiz
Quiz courtesy of www.MyBotanicPlanet.com.
See how much you and your family know about water.

1. Which is more - a cup of liquid water or a cup of frozen water?
A. Cup of liquid water
B. Cup of frozen water
C. They are the same amount

2. What happens to rain that falls on a parking lot, other hard surface, or even hard compacted soil?
A. It runs off without being absorbed
B. May pick up pollution
C. May cause erosion
D. All of these answers are correct

3. How much of Earth's available water is drinkable freshwater?
A. 50 percent
B. 3 percent
C. 100 percent

4. Lawns should be watered when the surface feels dry.
A. True
B. False

5. How much of the water we use is used outside?
A. Half
B. 75 percent
C. 25 percent

6. What does water need in order to change into steam, vapor or humidity?
A. Cold
B. Wind
C. Heat

7. It is possible to pollute a small stream inside a watershed without polluting the rest of the watershed.
A. True
B. False

8. How does nature make water clean?
A. By filtration
B. By the water cycle
C. Both answers are correct

9. In the water cycle, what comes after evaporation?
A. Condensation
B. Collection
C. Precipitation

10. Can one person, one family, one school or one community make a real difference in the quality of water in one watershed?
A. No
B. Yes

Water Quiz
Answers
1. C. They are the same amount
2. D. All of these answers are correct
3. B. 3 percent
4. B. False. Only when roots need water.
5. A. Half
6. C. Heat
7. B. False
8. C. Both answers are correct
9. A. Condensation
10. B. Yes
Scoring
9-10 points: Congratulations - you're a watershed wizard.
6-8 points: Good job - you're a watershed watchdog.
3-5 points: Room for improvement, but you're not a watershed wrongdoer.
1-2 points: You might need a watershed wake-up call.

Visit TruGreen's www.MyBotanicPlanet.com with your student for more lessons and activities that demonstrate the importance of water in our environment.

Courtesy of Family Features