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Science experiments at home

a review of

I'm the first to admit that I wasn't very good at science at school. I just struggled to grasp the concepts, couldn't remember all the formulas and just didn't have the intuitive sense for it like I did for other subjects. So I got through it, then, because I thought I wouldn't need it anymore, I promptly let it all fall out of my head.

Now I have a couple of young kids, aged five and seven and I'm now being called upon to teach them the same science I had so much trouble learning myself! I want both kids to have a good knowledge of science, so I decided I needed a little help.

My daughter loves Reading Eggs, Mathletics and Literacy Planet, so I figured that Experimentary, the science equivalent, was worth a go. I signed up for a free parent trial, and we choose an experiment based on her year level, time and cost of materials, settling on an experiment about fungi.

Experimentary is put together by Dr Rob Bell, who previously hosted the kid's science show Scope on Channel Ten. Because he is pretty good in front of the camera and used to talking to kids about science, watching the little videos for the experiments was a really fun way to engage the kids to start off.

Each experiment lists what we need (I checked this before I let my daughter choose - I didn't want to be traipsing all around the place to find materials!) Everything we needed was stuff we had lying around the house.

So we gathered all the bits and pieces together and watched the little intro video and method video together. Under five minutes combined, they were the perfect length as they match the attention span of my five-year-old who also wanted to take part.

Dr Rob explained everything really well, so we knew what to do. There's also a digital "lab book" for each experiment where we could fill in our aim and predictions and record our results.

So we did all this together, and because the experiment we chose is aimed at prep to year two, my daughter could do it all herself (except for the hot water bit - I thought I better help with that). She was pretty pleased that she could do it all, and take control over everything.

Dr Rob's instructions told us to take measurements at a couple of time increments and record the results, so we did that, and filled out the conclusion section in the lab book. Then we watched Dr Rob's wrap up video (again nice and short at under two minutes).

I was pretty impressed with how easy it was, and how engaged the kids were while they were doing it. We then also had a chat about mushrooms, and blue cheese, and then they wanted to use the leftover yeast to make bread! So we'll do that sometime too.

Overall, I found Experimentary to be a really fun way to add a bit more science to my kids' learning. I'm hoping that by continuing to feed their interest in science in a fun and engaging way they'll enjoy and understand science, unlike their mother!

PS: I started off with the free trial, which gives you full access so you can see all the experiments and find out how it works. It is really good value though at only $19.99/year, so I've signed up and plan to try and do an experiment once a month or so - less than $2/month!

 

 

 

 

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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