Making Science Come to Life for Kids

Imagine your kids learning science hands-on in a comical way. Do you think they would retain the information or would it have gone in one ear and out the other? That’s what I thought. Now if every subject could be taught this same way, how much more would our kids learn?

I chaperoned a 2nd-grade field trip to Astro Camp. This place has got “teaching science” down to a science. I was more than impressed with this program. Let me take you through this experience.

First of all, we all gather in a classroom where we meet the host of Astro Camp, Mr. D. He lays down the ground rules of behavior and such. Offering a special prize to the kids who do not break any of the rules. (Rules such as, pay attention, raise your hand, no running in the hall.)

While in the classroom Mr. D. has all of us, students and adults, stand as he asks us a series of questions. They were all interesting science questions that were way above all our heads. He then gives us only 2 choices for answers. Those who guess wrong sit down the others remain standing. The last one standing gets a prize.

I was impressed with how many kids remembered these questions and what the correct answers were. Just because there was a prize involved and because the parents were getting them wrong too the kids liked the game more and paid better attention.

Mr. D. split us up into 2 groups. One group went to learn about “matter” and the other group learned about “rocks”. My group went to learn about the matter first.

This was taught by one of the assistants. She was great. She did experiment after experiment telling the kids what she was doing and why then asking the kids questions to see if they could guess what would happen next.

After she did a few experiments she used the kids as molecules and told them how to react and where to go. She set ground rules like, move to the opposite corner of the box but you can’t step outside the line. When there weren’t many “molecules” in the box it was easy but when the whole class of “molecules” were in the box there was no moving what so ever.

Then she reviewed some of the experiments she had just done and they understood better what was going on with the molecules because of the game. She continued on and let the kids help and handle the next experiments while the concepts of matter were embedded in their minds.

It was great to see how easily the kids understood the concepts and how much more they wanted to learn. But it was time to change classes. I couldn’t imagine that the next class about rocks could be any better than the last one.

Mr. D. was teaching this class. I was very impressed right away that he remembered most of the kids’ names in my group right off. He got an earful of names when we had first arrived there.

Then we split up for classes and we are his 2nd class so how could he remember their names?! (He knew them all within the first 5 min of the rock class).

That was impressive to me. Anyway, he started talking to the kids about rocks–where they come from and how they are made. He asked the kids VERY leading questions throughout his explanation of rocks so that they could get most of the answers right and feel more confident in participating.

He had covered everything imaginable about rocks and showed some different kinds of rocks. Figuring there wasn’t much left to teach these kids I thought, “Well, I didn’t think it could be better than the last class.

I wonder what he’s going to do to fill up the rest of the time. I’m sure these kids aren’t going to continue being this good much longer.”

Mr. D. proceeds to tell a story about a rock named “Jim” as he pulls Jim out of the class and stands him up in front of everyone. Jim is a piece of sand up on a mountain. The rain comes the wind blows (Jim is being shaken by Mr. D.), which causes him to roll down the mountain, and he lands in the bottom of a lake. (Jim is now lying on the floor).

Well Jim’s buddy, “Ben” is a grain of sand upon the mountain that the winds blow in and the rain falls on (Ben is pulled from his chair and goes through everything Jim went through) and he ends up at the bottom of the lake on top of Jim.

The kids are having fun with this story. Mr. D. continues on until there are 7 or 8 kids stacked upon poor Jim at the bottom of the pile. Mr. D. asks Jim periodically how he’s feeling.

Is he hot? Squished? Etc.

They continue the story to melt the rock, it shoots up out of a volcano and it ends up on a mountain. It was quite fun.

After the story, Mr. D. pulls out more rocks and asks questions about the rocks in relation to the story they just heard.

With the previous information they gathered and the story, these kids were pretty impressive at their knowledge of rocks. I stood corrected. Teaching kids about rocks can also be fun and enjoyable.

The kids took a lunch break then we met back in the first classroom again with the whole group. Mr. D. had called the “Professor” while we were eating lunch and he said he’d be able to stop by and talk with the kids. The “Professor” was in his office and since all of us are there now he’ll go get him.

The kids can hear some commotion in the office. Then they hear an explosion and here comes the Professor stumbling out of a smoky room. Apparently, an experiment he was working on blew up on him and Mr. D. is going to take care of that while the Professor talks with the kids.

The Professor is full of jokes, funny experiments, experiments went bad, and just keeps all of us rolling.

He was great. He used helpers from the class gave little gifts to each of the kids always in a fun way.

These kids couldn’t have had a better time nor have learned so much in 3 ½ hours anywhere than they did here. Can you imagine how much our kids could learn if everyday school lessons were presented in such a fun manner?