*Warning*: dissection pics can be upsetting for the weak of stomach.
I try to encourage scientific thinking at home through two avenues. The availability of quality science resources is one. Science curricula the children can study systematically (e.g. Sonlight Science cores, Apologia texts), ample reference materials they can consult (DK Eyewitness books, field guides, encyclopaedias), and tools for hands-on investigation (binoculars, microscope, lab kits) are just some resources I try to make available. Instilling in them the curiosity to explore the world around them is another avenue. The former requires some financial investment while the latter requires investment in time; time for me to develop in them good observation skills, to grow in them the eagerness to explore creation, and to motivate them to wonder enough to want to find answers.
Due to the ages of the children (18, 16, 12, 10, and 6), I have long given up on keeping all the kids on the same science program. I also feel that keeping them, or some of them, on the same curricula would limit what they can learn. The result of this, I think, is that I’ve raised science learners who will not wait for me to spoon feed them but will research and follow a program of study on their own. Of course, during the younger years (K-3), it was up to me to ensure that they had an inclination towards science studies. And I still enjoy read-aloud times when our schedule permits.
The high schoolers need the science credits and have to keep to a progression in the courses they take. In choosing which course to study, we also take their interests into consideration. So, my more math-oriented 12th grader is working on a physics course online having completed biology and chemistry. At the same time, my biology-loving 11th grader is currently completing the Apologia Advanced Biology course. She has had fun dissecting a cow’s eye and heart and, just this week, a fetal pig.
My middle schooler son is ready for more serious science studies than his two younger siblings can grasp. He is also very hands-on when it comes to science. Having completed the physics and chemistry component of Rainbow Science by Beginnings Publishing, he is now working on the biology component. On top of his studies, he is exploring all sorts of things. Planting some tomato seeds from the kitchen a few months ago is one of them. A few days ago, he asked to go to the library to borrow some gardening books. Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of him in the yard from my bedroom window so I rushed outside with my camera. He was replanting his tomato. A few moments later, he was sprawled on my bed with his library books.
Although both younger ones listen in when I read, my 5th-grader can definitely move faster and cover more material when she goes about studying a program independently. Combining science and arts/crafts, this 5th grader produced two lap books while studying Exploring Creation with Astronomy this school year on her own initiative. All I had to do was download the pdf lap book kit I purchased and she printed, cut and pasted, designed and decorated, and wrote down her narrations to come up with this.
With the aid of these resources that inspire us about the beauty and mystery of creation, an attitude of exploration developed through nature walks (posted previously), and the inquiring mindset we try to have in everyday life (connecting what we read in books to what we see around us), science does become a part of us.
Here are some of the things the children have brought inside to investigate further.