You might look at this picture and see a pile of dirt in the yard. Cool, I guess. Actually, this “pile of dirt” was the centerpiece in which my daughters began to use components of scientific and engineering practices.
I relate my life to science all of the time. While going about my day, it will inevitably happen. An everyday occurrence will make me stop and think, “Wow, that reminds me of this theory,” or “Ha, that formula makes sense now.” I don’t do this on purpose, it just happens. While starting the Spring Semester at U of R, I have now noticed subjects we talk about in class happening at home.
In class, we have been discussing and reading about Scientific and Engineering Practices, and recently, we have been focusing on asking questions and defining problems. Well, living with an inquisitive 5 year old, and a curious 2 year old, I see this happening all of the time. In fact, it happened yesterday.
While outside, Mia, my oldest, called to me in a bit of a panic.
“Mommy, what is that turtle doing? I think it is dying.”
Now, anyone who has experienced/witnessed birth, might understand where she was coming from. The turtle had dug a hole in our front yard, and was laying eggs. Something Mia never seen, so it concerned her. I explained to her what was happening, and tried to answer her questions as best as I could. She really focused on why the turtle put the eggs in the hole. I explained it was to keep the eggs safe. But to her, that hole wasn’t safe. After suggesting some creative ideas, she asked if she could put a fence around the hole to help protect them. She had asked questions from observations, defined what she considered a problem, and wanted to fix it.
The whole time Mia and I were talking, Emmie, my youngest remained quiet. What happened next reminded me of the Kepler and Brahe example used in Southerland’s Teaching science to every child: Using culture as a starting point. The example I am referring to, is when the two scientist used the same set of data, but interpreted it in two very different ways.
Emmie peered up at me with a disgusted look on her face and said “Mommy, I don’t like eggs. Emmie doesn’t eat
turtle poop anymore.”
Settlage, J. & Southerland S. (2011). Teaching science to every child: Using culture as a starting point.
New York, NY: Routledge.