Science is about curiosity, observation, discovery, experimentation, and critical thinking. As much as possible, a child should be encouraged to learn scientific principles through their own experiences. Provide them with scientific tools: a magnifying glass, portable microscope, plant press, a variety of small containers, and other items as you choose (some tools can get expensive). You can see what this might look like HERE. Quality kits and hands-on activities are superior to textbook learning. Why read about animals and plants when you can visit a nature center, conservatory, farm, zoo, aquarium, or raise some yourself? Encourage these experiences and supplement them with biographies, videos, and some textbook material as needed.
Science ideas for elementary aged children
For this age group, science should be as sensory and experiential as possible. Even so, not everyone lives near places where children can explore God’s creation. I encourage you take advantage of whatever IS near you, though, and use it as a basis for further study. Even if you live in the middle of a city, you can still raise darkling beetles, grow plants, and study the moon. Here are some of my favorites for young children under the age of twelve.
Home Science Tools. This is my go-to company for all things science. Their newsletter features low-cost science experiments and ideas and their catalog is awesome! Lots of kits and tools to encourage your children to explore. The best kits are the ones they designed and the Thames and Kosmos brand. I turn to this company again and again to provide those hands-on materials I talked about.
Great Science Adventures. This curriculum is fun to use if your child likes crafts as my daughters do.
Sassafras Science. This series follows the Sassafras twins on their summer adventures learning different areas of science. It combines a living books approach with lapbooks and activities. My youngest son loves this series because he loves stories and the facts are given in bite-sized pieces.
Exploration Education. Upper elementary and middle school physical science course. This is a fabulous hands-on physical science course that uses a CD-Rom and includes all materials. Kids make models, conduct experiments, watch demonstrations, and record their learning. This is the best program I have come across that helps kids understand the relevance of all the branches of physical science and have fun, too.
Science ideas for teens
For this age group, science needs to be relevant. Some teens enjoy research and others just want to know why they have to learn something.
Fascinating Education. These courses feature video-based instruction and online quizzes. He keeps it relevant and incorporates real-life examples in his teaching. The only downside is that you need to provide the laboratory component of the course in order to make it complete.
Master Books. This company has some unique offerings such as geology, astronomy, and pre-med. Both of my older children enjoyed courses from Master Books because they were able to learn more about their passions in a structured format. I highly recommend this company for teens who want to learn science subjects that are outside the typical offerings.
YouthDigital. This is an online offering for any child or teen interested in learning how to use new technologies such as coding and game development. Very well designed and features feedback from instructors and free software.
Great Courses. This is a secular site and they offer far more than just science lectures. I did put together a technology-based course for son using lectures from this company, though. These lectures are available in different formats and feature the best of the best teachers. If you are looking for engineering, chemistry, or physical science material, this is a great resource.
Other ideas for teens
I encourage all teens to discover what their local museums, conservatories, and zoos have to offer. Many of them have volunteer programs, summer internships, and workshops for teens. Continuing on the themes of hands-on and relevant, these are the best opportunities. They also look great on transcripts! Take advantage of these exciting years and go out and do stuff!