Engaging young children in science

Explore the excitement of science with young children by using a new MSU Extension resource, “Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Science for Young Minds.”

Preparing young children to succeed in science is just one of reasons the Michigan State University Extension science and early childhood teams came together to develop “Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Science for Young Minds.” We strongly feel all children, regardless of their age, are naturally curious and interested in exploring their world. You only need to watch a baby crawl across the floor, grab something and put it in their mouth to realize they begin exploring their world almost from birth. The National Research Council recognized in their 2011 report, “A Framework for K-12 Science Education,” that “The capacity of young children to reason in sophisticated ways is much greater than has long been assumed. Even before they start school, children develop their own ideas about the physical, biological and social worlds and how they work.”

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Science for Young Minds” is a collection of activities with facilitation notes to help adults more effectively engage young children in science so that they gain important life skills while experiencing the excitement of science exploration. Asking questions and discovering answers is foundational in science, and each Inquiring Minds activity is loaded with sample questions and ideas designed to help adults guide young minds as they explore and discover answers about their world.

Each Inquiring Minds activity consists of eight sections, making them easy to use with children.

  1. What You’ll Need—Materials list
  2. What to Do—Help children experience the excitement of science exploration
  3. Getting Ready—Explains what needs to be prepared ahead of time and the ideas the children may need to engage in that particular activity
  4. Let’s Go—Direction with questions to use with children
  5. Talk It Over—Additional questions designed to connect the activity to the real world
  6. Good To Know—Recommendations for modifying the activity for learners of all ages
  7. The Science Behind It—Explains the science concept for the adult facilitator
  8. Resources—Links to additional information or related activities

Remember, even though the science concept is explained, the goal for Inquiring Minds is not to teach a specific topic, but to help children experience the excitement of science exploration. Supporting science exploration in young children engages their natural curiosity while providing practical tools for understanding everyday life. Children who develop the skills to ask questions, explore their world and discover answers are better equipped to succeed in life and have the skills needed to help solve the world’s big problems.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Science Activities for Young Minds” is available on the MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development website on the Resources page (on the MSU Extension website, click 4-H then Resources). To learn more about Inquiring Minds or to request a training, contact earlychilhood@anr.msu.edu.

For more ways to share science with youth in your life, please explore the MSU Extension Science and Engineering webpage. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office. To learn more about 4-H and Extension opportunities in Alcona County, stop by our Harrisville office at 320 S. US-23 or visit our Alcona County MSU Extension Facebook page.

Did you find this article useful?