Scaffolding Science

We just saw three children observing what happened when they splashed and poured water. It might look like they were just playing around. But through their play, they were learning key scientific skills. We saw one boy observing how his motions made the water move. We saw a girl experiment with moving water in different ways, using different tools to measure and pour. And we saw another boy try to use a bottle to squirt water out. He tried different strategies to get the water to flow, and to fill the bottle back up. We saw these children work on problem solving, experimentation, and reasoning in a matter of moments. These skills will prepare them for more systematic science classes later in school. This practice will also help them continue to expand their basic problem solving skills, for example, figuring out what the light switches do in a new house. These skills will be useful throughout their lives.

Children can practice building science skills anywhere at any time. Parents and teachers can help children think about science by asking lots of “what” and “how” questions. What happened there? What did you do? What do you think might happen? How do you think this works? These questions help prompt children to think about their exploration and experimentation in an organized way.

  • Scaffolding
    the support a caregiver provides a child to help them achieve more than they would be able to accomplish on their own
    (science, technology, engineering, math) a group of topics linked by a common focus and approach