Encyclopedias, Boy Scout and Girl Scout manuals, and books like "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and "The Dangerous Book for Girls" feature lots of science-related building projects. Museums gift shops, such as the Smithsonian's, offer crystal radio sets and potato clocks for sale, but even building a model, constructing a paper airplane or folding a bit of origami can start turning the wheels in your child's noggin. Educational Innovations offers entire catalogs of science teaching kits for educators and classrooms, many of them useful at home. The Web site ThinkGeek.com offers a more fun-based approach to the same kinds of gadgets and "brainy toys."
When it comes to basic experiments, you don't have to go any farther afield than your own kitchen. After all, baking is (mostly) delicious chemistry that you eat. Baking-soda volcanoes make for a fun and easy project, crystals will grow in a pie tin and you can pull off a non-Newtonian fluid with just water and cornstarch. If your kids love dinosaurs, make a fossil out of some plaster, a seashell and a cheap mold, such as a cut-up milk carton.
Don't be afraid to get messy. Embrace it. Encourage your kids to enter science fairs and give them as much guidance and support as you can. Most important, have fun! You're not just building interest in science, after all -- you're making family memories that will last a lifetime.
Speaking of traditions, you can stock up on more of them below.
- Frisinger, Cathy. "Cool Science: These Experiments Feel More at Home in the Back Yard Than the Classroom." The Sacramento Bee. Aug. 8, 2011. (Aug. 8, 2011) http://www.sacbee.com/2011/08/08/3823306/cool-science-these-experiments.html#ixzz1UT9pqGjm
- Partnership for Science Literacy. "A Family Guide to Science." American Association for the Advancement of Science. (July 27, 2011) http://www.tryscience.org/parents/pdf/AAASTampabooklet.pdf
- Rillero, Peter. "Teacher Handout: Exploring Science with Young Children." Scholastic Early Childhood Today. (July 26, 2011) http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/subarticle.jsp?id=3462
- Science Buddies. "Involved Parents." (July 25, 2011) http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/parent_resources.shtml
- True North. "At Home Activities." (July 26, 2011) http://www.truenorthparenting.com/view.php?content=91796&article=1
- WGBH, 9 Story Entertainment and TVOntario. "Exploring Science with Kids." Peep and the Big Wide World. (July 25, 2011) http://www.peepandthebigwideworld.com/guide/pdf/peep-parents-tips.pdf
What are good traditions for families during the summer? Read about 5 summertime family traditions at HowStuffWorks.