Tag Archives | science for kids

Games that Girls Play Teach Science

Girls are Already Scientists. Here’s How Games Keep Them on Track:

If your special girl has shown a sense of wonder for science in the past but you feel like her interest is fading, take some time to find science in games she plays to encourage her to pursue it.


Games and activities can spark an interest and encourage young girls to pursue education in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field. Here are a few tips to consider when trying to engage your daughter in the sciences.

  • Get out of the textbook. Textbooks help to frame learning concepts, but hands-on experience can truly spark an interest in any subject.

  • Supplement classroom science lessons with activities and games that will reiterate what she is learning. You can even talk to your daughter’s teacher about some fun ideas to carry over her learning at home.

  • Pursuing science outside of the classroom will increase her confidence in her knowledge of the subject. Get outside and explore. Talk about what you see, touch and smell.

  • Consider games that she can play with other girls who are also interested in the sciences. Your daughter may feel more encouraged to play science games if she has a friend playing, too. Find activities that they can do together, or even games in which they can compete.

Activities that encourage girls in science are probably already happening in your home and in and around your community.  All you need to do is find ways to highlight the science of it all.

  • Cooking allows girls to explore both science and math. Have your daughter help cook dinner and talk about how vegetables grow and what animals eat.

  • Gardening. Maybe some of your food comes straight from your garden. Take a walk outside and talk about the layers of soil and how the sun and rain affect plant growth.

  • Reading. When your daughter shows interest in a particular area of science, take a trip to the library. Let her check out some books on the topic.

More  science games and activities can be found in the CWIST library. Let your daughter search through the activities and have her choose a few to try this month. Before you know it, she will be well engaged in science and finding fun, new and interesting ways to explore it.


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What Can Kids Learn from a Failed Science Project? Everything!

Science Dad, Vince Harriman, says that it’s okay for a science project to fail sometimes, because that’s when the best kind of learning starts.   Here he explains how allowing kids to fail at science experiments will help them discover — and learn — more.

I’d like to take a stand and advocate for kids to fail. Specifically, I believe failing in science will help kids learn. Let me explain.

We want the best for our children — the best opportunity, the best education, the best after school activities. Stories about the ‘trophy’ culture and over-rewarding and over-praising kids have been in the news lately, sounding the message that we are going too far for our kids.

How do we know what is too much? How do we teach them both how to strive for a goal and how to learn from failure? We give them plenty on the goal side, but what else could we do?

As always, science provides the answer. But in this case, it isn’t the answer we are expecting. Our kids need a bit of failure in their lives to go with their success!

As parents we are tempted to think that we need to know the all the answers and to guide our children straight into the accepted wisdom. But science is much messier than that, and because it is, it provides a great learning opportunity for our children. Science is the place where not having the answer is the best possible place to be: where kids can learn the most.

thomas edison science kids

Source: Public Domain

Thomas Edison famously tried thousands of filaments for his light bulb before finding tungsten.  He filled thousands of notebooks with ideas and data from his experiments, never counting a failure as anything other than progress to his goal.

There was a great race at the end of the 19th century to make electric light work. Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb because he worked so tirelessly to achieve it, and because he used his ‘failures’ as tools to further his goals. My 8-year-old son has taken apart every flashlight in the house to experiment with bulbs and batteries. Edison would be proud!

Messier 42 science kids

Source: NASA

Similarly the great French astronomer Charles Messier began his catalog of nebula and star clusters while he was searching for comets and wanted to keep track of objects in the sky that were neither stars nor comets.

His publication eventually contained more than 100 objects, and 200 years later these objects are still referred to as Messier Objects. While he was busy failing to find the comets he was looking for, he discovered dozens of star clusters, nebula, even entire galaxies!

Pictured here is Messier 42, also known as the Orion Nebula. It is the middle star in Orion’s belt, and the first non-star object my son identified at the age of 5.

science kids

Source: Public Domain

One last example: Leonardo da Vinci filled 13,000 pages with notes and sketches, revisiting topics over and over again, refining designs, improving ideas, identifying and eliminating failures. Today, even our word for helicopter comes from his design, shown above.

The things we call helicopters are not helical flying wings, as the drawing shows and as the word etymology suggests, but Leonardo’s design still captures our imagination. Although Leonardo’s design was a failure, the name stuck and led engineers in the 20th century to take up the challenge again.

And now we have helicopters. My  younger son  fills pages with similar drawings, seeking that elusive perfect rendering.

So set out to do some science this week. Challenge your little learner, but also let her fail. Let her fail within the context of science. During one of Beckett’s play dates, we got a call from a slightly frazzled mother that Beckett had conducted an experiment with baking soda, vinegar and food coloring (!!!).  I wasn’t there to clean up the mess, but I was secretly proud.

Go ahead and let them make a mess (but have them clean it up, too). Let them create an experiment just to see what happens (but keep it safe!).  Let them play and have fun with science and let the ‘lessons’ come with the fun of discovery. Let them ask questions for which you may not know the answer.

It is possible that they might ask a question for which no one has an answer. Let them ask, let them fail. Your child might learn enough from their failure to answer one of the big science questions that hasn’t been answered yet.

Vince Harriman is a contributor to cwist.com—kids’ challenges with a twist—where he writes science activities for kids and is the author of the widely followed blog Kids Need Science. He is also known as Science Dad on NPR’s Science Friday blog. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with his two sons, who ask him “why” approximately 6,542 times a day (so feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like!).

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