The Younger Set

ReSET Volunteer Bob Hauptman reports on his program this term:


I want to tell you of my wonderful experience teaching science to kindergarden children.  First, you should know that it would not have been possible without the participation of two great people – Nsombi Brown, the Georgian Forest science teacher, and Harold Williams, the planetarium coordinator and professor of astronomy at Montgomery College, Takoma Park.  I have been guided by ReSET’s key consideration: “To what extent does this activity spark an interest in learning more about science?”  I have long wanted to try kindergarten instead of fourth grade.  My rationale for this is that I believe the window in the brain for learning science is probably still open for six year olds, whereas it may have already closed for ten year olds.  In this regard, I also believe that this window may already be open for children younger than six.  I really need inputs from learning specialists to tell me.  Anyhow, the results exceeded my wildest expectations.  One of the main reasons is that six year olds are more pleasant than ten year olds.  They simply have not learned how to be sassy!  Additionally, they absorb information at least as well as older children, although it remains to be seen how well they retain it.  I did modify my approach slightly; so that although the activities are basically the same, I tried to present them at a simpler level.  My approach, to get them to perform on their own and then to try to get them to explain what is going on, remains basically the same.  Examples of what I did are: can/string phones, fossils, balloons for statics and Newton’s reaction law, magnets, the solar system (including a visit to the planetarium, that they loved), the earth and rocks, and simple electric circuits.  I am sure much of what I do duplicates or adds to what Nsombi does, but I am not sure that matters.  I am still in a learning curve; so that, as time goes on, I will make some modifications.  For example, I will explain how plants nourish through their roots by demonstrating the rise of colored water through the fibers of a celery stalk.  I may also drop electric circuits.  I do intend to stay at this school (Will you have me, Nsombi?!) and to maintain contact with these children as they progress through grades.  It is also my intent to continue doing kindergarden and maybe even transition to pre-K.

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