My sweet little Ellen (9) loves to explore outside and would spend the day digging in the dirt if I let her. Last week I found her with a mason jar and a notebook deep in a scientific investigation. Promptly I gave her my camera and set her to work chronicling her discoveries (all photo credit in this post goes to her). That day she revealed to me some key principles about cultivating the scientist within. Here's what we discovered:
1. A Scientist must spend a lot of time in her field of study.
If you want to truly study something, you have to invest time. Nature is our current field of study as it is rich with material for researching. You cannot expect results from short burst of time. In order to glean quality information, you have to invest quality time.
2. A Scientist must be practiced in the art of observation.
When Ellen came inside the other day excited about her finding, I was surprised by what she found. If she had not carefully studied the trees and leaves in our yard, she would have missed the little treasure dangling from the tree.
3. A Scientist must ask good questions.
At first, her treasure just looked like some crumpled leaves hanging from the tree. However she noticed that there was a caterpillar hiding inside the little leaf cocoon. But what was it?
4. A Scientist takes good notes.
Quickly after finding her object of inquiry, Ellen grabbed her notebook and a pencil. When I asked her what she was up to, she stated: "I found something cool and I'm going to draw it." Good idea, I thought. She jotted down notes of what she thought it could be and formed a hypothesis. She'll be able to refer back to her notes as her study progresses.
5. A Scientist collects data.
Surprisingly, Ellen knew exactly where to find a mason jar equipped with holes to collect her data in order to truly study it over time. After she secured her subject, she was able to watch the caterpillar go in and out of it's cocoon. This allowed her to make more observations about the color and structure of the insect.
6. A Scientist cares for her specimen.
In order to see what this caterpillar will become in the end, she'll need to watch it hatch. The girls pulled out their Butterfly habitat and the caterpillar made itself comfortable. Happily hanging from it's new home, the specimen rests until further transformation. Ellen will carefully watch until the magic happens.
Most likely this caterpillar will emerge as a moth, but the transformation of a little girl into a scientist was a metamorphosis worthy of notice.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.