Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Freebie Science

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News reports like to remind us Americans that our kids lag behind other industrialized countries in Science and Math.  And, yes, as an insecure mother and homeschool teacher, I pay attention to those reports.  Science, therefore, is one of the main core subjects at our house.  (Besides, there's gotta be some way to take advantage of the many unintended science experiments I find going on in our house.  Waste not, want not...)
Yet, it is sooooo hard to pick out a Science curriculum - if, indeed, you need a curriculum.  Perhaps we'll address that some other time...

Homeschool science can run the gamut from a simple book of experiments that you check out from the library to a curriculum complete with tests and lab equipment that runs hundreds of dollars.  So many choices to choose from.  But, we're talkin' freebies this week!  Here are a few free Science resources I've found to get our little Einsteins off and running in their scientific career.

Aurora Lipper of Supercharged Science offers a free pdf file of experiments and simple science lessons to do at home - simply enter your information as requested.  These experiments are fun!  And, they teach principles of Science at the same time.  How perfect is that!  Also, if you check in on her site, every so often she offers a free teleclass.  You simply download what you need to do at home and then call in for the class at the proper time.  Its live and the only price you pay is the cost of the phone call.  The teleclass gives your student the opportunity to ask a question at the end of the class. 

One of the best and easiest ways to study Science is through nature.  Are you planning to visit a National Park this summer?  Perfect!  The National Park Service offers a Jr. Ranger program.  The site offers a long list of parks where the Jr. Ranger program is available.  Simply visit a park ranger station and ask for materials for the program.  You are then given the materials needed - usually a backpack with a workbook and perhaps binoculars and a magnifying glass, etc (you only check these out, not keep them).  Be sure to allow plenty of time to fill out the worksheets or book your child is given.  You may need to go on a hike or go exploring to find the answers but all is done at your own pace.  Kids will learn subjects such as history, science, nature, and even art -?(well...that's what the website says).  When all the materials are completed your child simply goes back and shows the ranger what he did.  He then receives a certificate and a badge.  Cost:  Zero - wooHoo!  (Well, perhaps the cost of getting into the park, and travel....)

Current events always have a way of providing teaching opportunities.  The latest earthquake and tsunami in Japan is one example.  The PBS Savage Seas site has information on waves and a wave simulator to play with.  The USGS site for kids also has some good, educational content.  Though, there's a lot there.  If you want to do a guided lesson you might look at the site beforehand and bookmark just the pages you want your students to go through.  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) also has some information on tsunamis and also from the gulf oil spill.

Which, brings to mind the weather (or, at least in my mind it does.  My thoughts scatter like that sometimes...)  Free science lessons on weather?  Yes please.  The Weather Channel has a site just for educating kids about weather.  Chances are your local news station also has resources for kids.

Do your students like to learn about space?  I mean, other than playing LEGO Star Wars and the lure of laser blasters at the breakfast table?  Well, NASA has a special site just for kids.  This kid's club site is mostly games to play related to space and NASA.  However, the NASA for students site has lots of information on space and the history of space exploration. 

Other science websites to find free lessons?  Well, this BBC site has lessons for science perfect for young elementary children.  Science Kids also has a variety of lessons available.  Got older kids?  Khan Academy has tons of free lessons.  Sometimes, to understand something we just need someone else to explain it to us in a different way.  That's what the Khan site is really good for.  It has lots of math explanations but, if you scroll down some you'll see there's also tons of science subjects to explore.

Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list of what's on the 'net as far as free Science lessons are concerned.  But, perhaps these will be helpful sites to explore.

Next, we'll look at freebies for Math. 
See you then!

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