How do young children learn science?

balls in water

  • Science explorations are rooted in children’s interests, questions, and ideas about the natural world. Investigations begin with children’s questions and focus on uncovering children’s ideas based on evidence from their own explorations.
  • Direct experiences are central to children’s science explorations. Children have many opportunities to directly observe and explore the objects, materials, events, and living things in their own environments.
  • Science learning is an active process. Children participate in the processes and practices of science as they ask questions, make observations, try things out, develop and test their ideas, collect information, and think about what they observed and discovered.
  • Opportunities for children to explore their ideas across time and across different settings are ongoing. For example, while learning about the life cycle of plants, children plant seeds, observe and measure plant growth, and compare the growth of different plants. They also look at plants in the neighborhood, visit a local nursery or garden center, and make connections to the plants and gardens their families cultivate at home.
  • Opportunities for children to communicate about what they are doing, noticing, and finding out are critical to conceptual development in science. Children think and talk about their explorations and ideas with their peers, families, and teachers. They have materials and support to represent their observations and ideas in many different ways including through drawing, painting, and writing.

Children learn science by doing science

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