Now that spring is here, it’s a great time for families to get outside, enjoy the warmer weather and explore nature. It’s also a great time to encourage and support your children’s curiosity, and get them excited about science. A scientist explores, observes, questions, creates hypotheses, experiments, records data, analyzes patterns and shares their findings. All children can be scientists by following their natural curiosity and all parents can help their children in this process. Providing children with a wide range of experiences, outdoor exploration, encouraging questions, and sharing in the excitement of becoming scientists together creates an environment of discovery and inquiry. Try these activities with your children and see what you may discover together as scientists.
Discover What’s Inside a Seed
Materials: large lima beans, paper towels, three Ziploc bags, magnifying glass (optional).
Soak three batches of several lima beans (one overnight, one for two days, one for three days) by placing them between two wet paper towels in separate sealed, labelled Ziploc bags. After soaking, remove the seeds and carefully peel back the seed coat on the convex side of the bean. Then remove the bean coat. Carefully pry the bean halves apart on the convex side and gently separate them. What do you see? Are there differences in the plant size depending on how many days the seeds were soaked? Look for the radicle (baby root), plumule (baby leaf) and cotyledon (food source). After your dissection is complete, place the separated seed back between the damp paper towels in the Ziploc bag. Leave for two to three days and re-examine the seed for plant growth.
Create a Seedling Museum
Materials: transparent plastic cup, paper towels, a variety of seeds (lima beans, radish, zucchini, sunflower. chives, zinnia, lettuce, marigold), marker.
Line a plastic cup with two sheets of paper towel, first folded in half and then in thirds. Scrunch another sheet of paper towel and place it gently in the centre of the cup. Place the seeds in groups between the paper towel and the side of the cup. Label the groups of seeds by writing their names on the outside of the cup with a permanent marker. Pour enough water into the centre of the cupto wet the scrunched up paper towel. The water will wick through the surrounding paper towels and keep the seeds moist. Check your museum each day for signs of germination. Add water as needed to keep the paper towels damp. Encourage your young scientist to observe the seeds’ growth and record their observations over time.
Explore Your Neighbourhood
Now that the weather is warming up, be sure to get outside and explore. By providing a magnifying glass, a pair of binoculars and some age-appropriate nature identification books, you are giving your child the ideal
tools to explore their own neighbourhood in an intimate way. Take a walk together, visit a local park, join a guided hike, or plant your own vegetable garden. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover together as a family.