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Science inspiration for toddlers, primary schoolers and pre-teens


Three states

The big news out of CERN, the nuclear research lab is that they’re pretty sure they’ve nailed the Higgs Boson – aka the God particle.  I can barely understand a word they’re saying and conceptually I am completely lost (never any good at physics).  But all of us can recognise that this is a big deal for science.

With nanotechnology, stem cell research and particle physics zooming ahead, there’s no more exciting time that now to get your young children into the wonders of science.  But how?  Not by trying to explain sub-atomic particles – even with oranges and apples to demonstrate, that’s just too tough!

Why not get inspired by this news to have a science-y kind of week at home this holidays.  Start in the kitchen, every mum’s very own lab, and examine water:  it’s liquid – drink it.  It’s solid – smash it into pieces.  It’s gas – watch it billow up out of the kettle.  Simple but that’s the 3 states of matter all wrapped up in a flash.

Follow that up with a bedtime watch of the fun biography films of famous scientists like Isaac Newton, Galileo, Marie Curie or Louis Pasteur and you may just sow a science seed in your preschooler’s young brain.

And they might just begin to look more closely at things around them and ask questions.  I think that’s the first step on the road to CERN.

Make like Isaac Newton

It’s great to think that the scientist Isaac Newton made all his ground-breaking discoveries at a time (1642 – 1727) when there were no hi-tech tools.  Just shows that you don’t need fancy gear to have great ideas.  He worked out that light is made of different colours – as in a rainbow.  How? By shining daylight through a hole in the door and onto his prism.  Your kids can split light up too!  Here’s how:

1.  Put some water in a shallow dish.
2.  Prop up a small mirror in the water at an angle.
3.  Place the dish near a window and position the mirror so that sunlight hits it.

The light passes through the water and bounces off the mirror, making a faint rainbow appear on the wall.

And while they’re at it, why not learn the colours of the rainbow?  Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain = Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

I like this science experiment website for kids.

Follow this up with a quick watch of our ten-minute film about Isaac Newton for ages 6 – 100.  Factually accurate, funny and informative – a clever way to spend the afternoon!

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