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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


The Basic Science of Discovery - How to Teach Your Children the Basics of Discovery

By Andrew Loh

Science is an intricate process that involves accumulating daily life experiences gained by conducting an in-depth and probing discovery on a given topic. Learning the language of science of discovery is natural for all humans and it starts right through the birth. Children learn basic science of discovery and exploration much long before they enter their classrooms. Parents and teachers facilitate the teaching in homes and classrooms.

At home, parents are the de-facto teachers for managing the learning of science and its associated disciplines. For example, parents can explain, highlight, describe and inspire children about several things that happen around their children. Most common and ordinary things that a child learns in the first six years of life are:

  • How sun rises and sets

  • How rain drops fall

  • How flowers bloom

  • Why birds fly

  • How animals make sounds

  • How children can play with a specific kind of toy

Children in the age group of 4-6 years have the ability to learn the art of discovery through science. With the basic principles of discovery, your children can help understand how things work around them. Children are known to learn how things work with a “play and find out” approach; this allows your children to play as they learn about the everyday science. In the past, the art of teaching the science of discovery depended heavily on teaching theoretical parts. Science teachers actually read the science project books, instructed children why, and how something happened. In turn, children answered the questions put forward by the teachers. However, teaching the science of discovery can never be theoretic and someone had to make the children learn by actually doing. This belief led to the creation of a curriculum that depended on a hands-on approach of doing or carrying out certain tasks.

Teaching science of discovery actually starts at your home, where you will be the teacher to your children. Science of discovery is something that is actually in front of us. Something happens around us every day and when children know how to detect and identify this “something”, they are on their way to learn their lessons in a scientific manner. As mentioned before in the earlier article, the basic procedure involved in teaching the science of discovery revolves around on “why”, “when”, “where” and “how” part of life.

When you try to link any natural phenomena that occurs around your house with the science of discovery, then you will become successful in implementing the actual course curriculum that is basic and primary. For example, consider the following scenarios:

Scenario #1 - Why leaves of a plant are so green in color? Do not just ask this question. Rather, ask other related questions like, “Why most plants have green colored leaves?”, “why leaves have different shapes?” and “why leaves of a plant fall at certain times of year?” These critical questions result in the development of basic skills like exploration, inquiry and inquisitiveness. You can actually turn this into an active science of discovery project for your children.

Scenario #2 - How and why table salt dissolves in water. This forms a basic science question that you can turn into a discovery project. Ask a series of probing questions and answer them for your children. Questions like “what is table salt”, “how salt is produced”, “what happens when table comes into contact with water?” are very probing and thought-provoking.

Children often like to learn through playing with their toys. You may wish to bring brain-developing toys that actually enhance their brain skills. Some toys help your children by making them to probe and question why and how toys work. Children learn at their pace and interest levels. Children learn their science lessons based on their level of brain development. For example, a young child of two years may not show interest in advanced science lessons. However, you can still teach the children the basics of discovery. For example, show your young child how to fold fingers one by one and count them. You will be surprised to see that the child will try to imitate your actions by actually folding the fingers and counting them, at least in visible actions.

Museums, parks, forests and zoos are some of the places where your children can learn the basic skills of scientific discovery. Children tend to associate their learning process with plants, flowers, animals, birds, cartoon characters and other similar icons. Trekking is one of the best methods to learn how things work and why they actually work in nature. Children learn with an impulsiveness that propels them towards learning the lesson of their choice. Parents should help their children in associating everyday occurrences with the basic principles of discovery.

Here is classical learning situation that is made possible by teachers in a classroom:

In a classroom, the teacher will conduct an organized session of discovery learning by deploying  the following model:

The teacher will ask some probing questions that relate to the science of a certain thing and he or she will expect the children to ask questions, investigate answers and reasons, and later find solutions to the problems. Teachers will not provide any answers, but help children find their own answers. Questions from children are answered with other probing questions.

Let us assume that children are interested in knowing how a dam is built. The basic procedure followed here is to ask children what they know about dams and how they help people. Based on the answers provided, the teacher might start initiating a series of dialogues as follows:

Teacher: What can you do to learn more about dams?
Children: We could consult books, magazines and encyclopedia or visit a dam.
Teacher: How could one build a dam?
Children: They build the dam by using cement and steel.
Teacher: Are you sure, you can build a dam just by using cement and steel?

Now, the children will start thinking and trying to find out correct answers in their minds. The teacher may help children in finding out a series of answers by asking counter questions and queries. The teacher my even accompany the children for a discovery tour to a nearby dam so that they can practically and visually see more about dams..

The everyday science of discovery teaching is an effective way to make your children endowed with the power of inquiry and imagination, which are the two most important life skills for success.

Featured Resource

Teaching Children Science: A Discovery Approach
By Joseph Abruscato and Don A. DeRosa

Science is a quest for explanations. This popular text continues to encourage teachers to help their students learn through discovery, while also providing content on the latest techniques in science teaching. This edition has been thoroughly revised and features a new co-author, Dr. Donald DeRosa of Boston University, a larger trim size, and paperback binding for a fresher, more open feel.

The book Includes The 5 E's Learning Cycle - The 5 E's learning cycle is an instructional design model that presents a framework for constructivist learning theories that can be effectively used in teaching science.


Featured Resource


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