They say that children are our future, but it seems like the newest generations of children aren’t interested in anything but social media and Angry Bird. It can be difficult, or even impossible, to get them excited about things like math and science, even though these are some of the fastest growing career fields right now.
If you can’t separate your kids from their mobile device, don’t fret — here are a few tips to help get your kids unplugged and interested in science in one fell swoop.
1. Make It Fun
No matter what Common Core says, kids tend to learn better when they’re having fun. Don’t put the emphasis on winning science fairs or memorizing the periodic table. Instead, emphasize fun. For chemistry, try experiments that make a mess — Elephant’s Toothpaste is a good one — or ones that generate heat or catch fire. The bigger the mess, the more entertaining the experiment!
There are also board games for programming, robots to build and even LEGO sets that can count as science. You’re only limited by your imagination.
2. Add (Safe) Explosions
Everyone loves a good explosion, and it can be a great way to get your kids intrigued — as long as you’re taking proper safety precautions. For the hands-on experiments, break out various combinations like vinegar and baking soda, water and citric acid, or even Diet Coke and Mentos candies to get an explosive result.
Supervised experiments can be bigger and louder, as long as you’re safe about it. Sodium, when introduced to water, causes the hydrogen and oxygen in the water to separate. The heat from the reaction causes the newly separated hydrogen to ignite, and BOOM — explody goodness.
3. Hands-On Experiments
Don’t pick too many experiments that require adult supervision — it’s much easier for most kids to learn if they’re allowed to get their hands dirty, so to speak. You can break into that list of kid-friendly explosions above, or even order a pre-assembled science kit that contains all the books and supplies you need to plan any and all experiments.
4. Eat Your Science
Do your kids enjoy cooking or helping you cook? Then you’ve already got a good foundation for getting them interested in science — cooking is science, too!
Popcorn is a great example of food that both explodes and is edible — the steam building up inside the popcorn kernels when they’re heated is what causes them to pop.
Rock candy is super simple, and it is a great way to teach your kids about solutions and super saturation. Make a geode out of the rock candy solutions, and voila! You’ve added geology to your chemistry experiment.
Nibbling on dandelion leaves is a great way to learn about edible plants — yes, this is still science. It’s botany! Science you can eat is an awesome way to keep your kids interested in the field — everyone loves sweet and savory treats.
5. Forget the Grades
Yes, your kids probably have science classes in school where they have to study formulas and memorize tables that they’re graded on. For your at-home experiments, skip the grades. Forget the tests. Just focus on the fun aspect. Your kids get enough of grades at school.
6. Turn ON the TV
No, TV doesn’t rot your brain, no matter what your parents have been telling you for decades. There are a ton of great educational science shows that can teach your kids about science and entertain them with explosions without you worrying about potentially burning down your house.
After all, 90s kids grew up with Bill Nye the Science Guy, who is currently on Netflix along with his new show “Bill Nye Saves the World.” You can never go wrong with “Mythbusters,” either.
There are also YouTube channels dedicated to science experiments and some off-the-wall things you can do with science. Grant Thompson, the King of Random, is one of the biggest kid-friendly science channels on YouTube, and he’s got a ton of videos and experiments to choose from. He sets things on fire, so you don’t have to.
Science in the Name of Fun
Getting your kids interested in science doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth — unless your kid is interested in dentistry that is, since that’s science, too. The biggest key here is to keep the experiments fun — the more fun your kids are having, the more they’ll learn.