Our Youngest Scientists
An infant drops their cup from their highchair. They hear a bang and see it roll across the floor. They giggle. You pick up the cup and hand it back to your infant. They again drop it, hear the sound as it bangs on the floor and rolls away. Another giggle. You may begin to become frustrated as this cycle continues considering this behavior to be inappropriate. However, through the eyes of your infants, or shall we say young scientist, they are making a keen observation related to cause and effect in that dropping the cup causes a noise.
We can use our lens for science to see science opportunities all around us. Doing so can help us to view situations in a new light, noticing the curiosity of young children and their eagerness to learn about their world. So how can we further support our youngest scientists? "Interacting in meaningful ways with very young children is part of supporting early science learning." (Head Start, 2021). More specifically, you can also:
Provide time for your children to explore without interruption,
Allow them to make mistakes as these are rich opportunities to try and again and have deeper and more meaningful learning experiences,
Model curiosity, making it a natural part of children's learning in your classroom,
Label the science that is happening all around, building rich vocabulary,
Provide materials that provoke children's thinking.
As we look back to the example of the cup being dropped, we can begin to see that how we respond to this moment can support children's natural curiosity. We can say "Aha! You are noticing that dropping the cup causes a loud sound." After the meal is over, you can bring out some items that will allow the child to continue to explore this curiosity about cause and effect. Consider bringing out a wooden spoon and metal mixing bowl or a variety of balls to bounce on the floor. This one initial moment of curiosity can lead to a variety of connected and rich science opportunities.