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  • Steven Delpome

We're gonna science the ______ out of this


“I want to be a scientist when I grow up.”

“What are you going to study?”

“Everything.”

Don’t you love that answer? Isn’t it everything that we find both so endearing and amazing about children? Why we got to talking about being scientists I don’t know. Maybe it was because we were trying to figure out why flowers have petals and Spring was warm in the air. Or maybe it was because so much of what we found was so sciency. The diagrams, the explanations, videos and reading...this very quickly turned into important work at Wanaque Public Library.

Sometimes we lose sight of what natural scientists children really are. There are behaviors that we all associate with scientists. Our schools have outlined them as part of new next-generation standards for children to meet.

Asking questions and defining problems.

Why do flowers have petals? Gotta figure it out.

Developing and Using Models

The children group themselves, rules get set within the groups, jobs are assigned, structures are formed. Almost all of this is unspoken.

Planning and Carrying out Investigations

“Let’s Google it!” “How do you spell petal?” “Click that one.”

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Without spreadsheets, worksheets or other guiding forms, it happens. Sources get chosen based on how accessible they are, how useful the children determine the information is, and so on. Suddenly pictures of gardens are being drawn with bees and ground crawlers, all of it the children’s interpretation of the data they found. They continue Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Data. Again, all of this is unspoken. No instruction was needed.

Constructing Explanations

What you see is children with many different hypotheses formed from the information found putting the pieces together in beautiful pieces of art which will be used in the end to explain to all what was learned.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

By the time we are gathered back together, we’re asking questions: “What if…” “Is that like…” “But this other group thinks…” and no one feels put down or wrong because we start from a place of not knowing to begin with, so we stay there, open to all ideas and attached to none.

And it all just happens, because when children are learning about ideas that they are interested in and are enthusiastic about, they are scientists by instinct already. You couldn’t stop them from studying everything if you tried.