As Sydney Science Trail prepares to wrap-up on 15 September, Dr Brett Summerell shares with parents the reasons why exposure to science is so critical and healthy.
To get kids started, take simple steps…
Science Week is a great way for kids to get an intensive snapshot of why science is important and relevant to their future. As part of the Sydney Science Trail, kids can grab all sort of aspects and see how they are all interrelated. They can see why nature is essential and why it is important to understand the science behind nature. Pretty quickly they can see how it all interconnects and how important it is to our future survival on the planet.
Keep exposing kids to science
Science is a living teacher. It's about trying to get kids out and doing different things, even if you get a ‘lukewarm’ response.
Don't be afraid to try things out, even if your kids don't initially want to, or there is a feeling that it doesn’t click right away, I would say to parents even if there is some initial resistance keep going and keep exposing kids because it might not have an impact in the week that you did it, but further, on down the track, they will come back to you and say. "Mum, do you remember when we did this?", or "Dad, you remember when we did that?"
Bigger is better
It is great to have a backyard for kids to grow their veggies to grow their own plants and to watch them slowly developing, but obviously, not all kids have the ability to do that. Still, science is all around us. For any child, getting out in all different sorts of nature is excellent and the bigger space you are in – like a park or a botanic garden or a national park – then the easier it is for kids to more interactions in the natural world.
So in those bigger spaces, you are more likely to see – the cockatoos flying around doing their thing, or the bin chickens, or lizards. There are all sort of different creatures interacting and a greater diversity of plants that you are more likely to see in bigger spaces of the natural world.
Technology is your friend
Make science more enjoyable for kids and don’t be afraid of looking at ways in which you can use technology to make it connect better with the things that they are interested in. Take them inside a garden with a Virtual Tour or get them to capture a photo of a plant. Parents can now take advantage of technology –and explore a whole bunch of cool apps that help you go out as a family make something a bit more enjoyable with a goal.
Jump into citizen science
Initiatives like the Climate Watch Trail or Frog ID you know that is just a fabulous way to engage kids. A kid hears a frog, and he records the call, but then he has to go down and sit next to that body of water or wherever it is and just sit quietly and wait until the frog is comfortable to start making its call again. It is about that ability just to look and observe and to learn some patience around sitting and waiting.
Let nature soothe
There’s a lot of well-studied evidence that experiencing nature getting out and doing that has a significant impact on health but particularly on children and their psychological health. Benefits can be seen especially in children with attention deficit syndrome and the like types of syndrome.
For all of the nature provides a calming and reassuring effect on children. They are creating a connection to nature in one way that is stimulating but not over-stimulating in another way.
If you want your kids to explore, join our Sydney Science trail programs at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.