Just this past weekend I took my youngest to the Spark! Lab at the National Museum of American History. This is one of our favorite areas at this museum. At the lab, scientists demonstrated to the children how water and dry ice (solid state of carbon dioxide) form carbonic acid. It was fascinating to see young kids actively engaged in scientific experiments. One of the best things of these children-friendly museums is that most of the experiments and activities are “hands-on.” By being able to manipulate the materials and actively participate in the experiments, these activities turn into truly learning experiences. Children remember the information better during these types of activities. An added bonus—these “hands-on experiments” are actually fun! Definitely beats just reading about scientific processes in a textbook.
In the larger Washington, DC area, we are very fortunate to have museums and centers like the Smithsonian Institution and the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore relatively close by. Similar centers and children’s museums exist throughout the country. I would like to share with you a listing of hands-on science centers worldwide . By visiting these centers during the weekend, we can instill in children the love of science and the environment at an early age. Furthermore, we don’t have to be science teachers by profession to try many of these experiments at home. They can be a great activity for the entire family.
Geography should not be an obstacle to visiting some of these locations. With the use of the Internet, you can actually visit these learning centers online. In fact, these sites provide resources for parents, teachers, and kids to increase understanding of the value of science in our society.
That’s a valuable lesson for us all.
About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.