7 October 2009

'Doing Science Together' promotes everyday science connections

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Basic science concepts can be difficult to illustrate at home. If you're a parent or grandparent, your own science days may be years, even decades, behind you. Doing Science Together, a new initiative of the Center for Integrating Research & Learning (CIRL) at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, now offers small and large groups opportunities to learn inventive and simple ways to make connections between their everyday world and science.

This free program offers kids and adults of all ages a chance to learn about their world with hands-on activities that help participants:

  • Make connections between science and their world
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Think scientifically
  • Gain a sense of adventure and curiosity
  • Address "Big Science Ideas" with simple activities that can be done at home with basic materials.

Programs are tailored to each group's needs. Activities may feature listening walks, 10-minute field trips, or picture books to expand science vocabulary.

Doing Science Together will visit the Tallahassee Mall Barnes and Noble from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 and Nov. 19. The event will start with a reading of a science-themed children's book followed by a hands-on activity. Attendees will receive lots of ideas for teachable science experiences that families can explore together at home.

"An activity called 'floating and sinking' is an example of an activity we might do," said Center Director Pat Dixon. "We take a bunch of fruits and vegetables and ask children which ones they think will float and which ones will sink. Children are often surprised to see some very large items float and smaller ones sink, and it's an opportunity to teach them about why things float in a very hands-on, tangible way."

Doing Science Together is available to small and large groups including parents, senior citizens' groups, student groups looking for science-fair strategies, science clubs, and adults who want to learn more about science. Workshops may be scheduled after school, evenings or on Saturdays and can take place at the Magnet Lab or off-site. For more information contact Carlos Villa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (850) 644-7191, or Pat Dixon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (850) 644-4707.

Sample Activity: Listening Walk

Basic concepts:

  • Sound is a type of energy
  • Sound occurs when matter vibrates
  • Sound vibrations cannot be seen but can be felt

Activity:

Grab a clipboard or a notebook and go on a walk with a child. Help that child to concentrate on the sounds you hear during the walk.

  • Which sounds are loud and which are quiet?
  • Which are near and which are far?
  • Can you tell if something is big or small from the sound you hear?
  • What kind of people, animal, weather and machine noises do you hear?