On our last trip to our local library, my daughter chose a book from the non-fiction shelves which I hadn’t seen before. Called Mini Scientist Water Fun, it contained a number of simple experiments suitable for young children to carry out with a little adult help. As both a teacher and parent I am really keen to encourage my daughter to be curious about the world around her, so this sounded perfect. I also thought that this would be a good way to start to introduce some basic scientific principles, as well as keep her amused during half term to boot!
The book includes plenty of experiments to explore different aspects of water science. We liked looking at the surface tension of water using paper clips. It was interesting to ask my daughter what she thought would happen when I placed paper clips onto the surface of a glass of water, and then ask her to explain why they hadn’t sunk like she thought. At first she said that they were light and not heavy, and we spent lots of time talking about surface tension and watching videos of pond skaters and other insects which use the surface tension to move around. She also noticed that the paper clips looked different when viewed through the side of the glass than from the top, which I liked because this is the start of her developing her skills of observation.
By far our favorite experiment was the chromatography. I bought a set of coffee filter papers and we spent ages looking at the different ink colors that the chromatography revealed. She was able to carry out the experiment completely single handedly, and even developed the experiment further by using two colors of ink at a time. This started lots of discussion about color theory and how you can mix colors together to produce new colors, such as the green pen which proved to be made of blue and yellow inks. The darker inks produced better results, and had the bonus of adding “cyan” to her vocabulary.
The Water Fun book certainly produced the required result, as my daughter shouted in glee, “Can we do more experiments now?” It really warmed this GeekMom’s heart to see her so enthused about science and learning.
There are three more books in this series from DK written by meteorologist Lisa Burke, including books with kitchen and garden/backyard experiments, and experiments about the human body. There are example pages and more details on the DK site. I’ll certainly be looking for more of these books next time we visit the library.