Introducing Your Young Scientist to Physics with a Bang!

It's only once a year but it's well worth the wait. Last week we had the pleasure of attending the Physics with a Bang! program at the University of Chicago. The FREE program is designed to introduce physics to young children. It was a loud action packed show, full of explosions, makeshift rockets, and fire. 

There were some unexpected benefits to the show for us:

My son left thinking physicists are cool. 

It did not occurred to me that his interest in science may go unexplored because of his apprehension about being labeled a "nerd". Sure, I watched the Fresh Prince episode where Will hides his books to avoid the social stigma of the label but I thought those days were over. I have been working hard to make science cool! Seems pretty clear to me that "nerds" rule the world.  When you sit down and think about the representation of "smart kids" on television is still pretty negative most of the time. There is a serious amount a social isolation attached to being a "nerd". 

Physics with a Bang! was one small step in the right direction. Not only was there an auditorium full of people who can to watch these rockstar like physicists but after the show there were additional demonstrations featuring college students.  Stories about how you socialized with college students over ice cream you just watched them make out of liquid nitrogen is the stuff of playground conversation legend. 

He knew more than he thought.

When you are seven and you walk into a physics classroom on a college campus the assumption is that you are completely unfamiliar with everything that will happen. Not here. This was a safe space to explore physics by forming a hypothesis about the end result and then watching it happen. It was magical. One moment of tremendous pride for my son was realizing that he had made a non-newtonian fluid at home and therefore understood what was happening and how the scientist made it. 

At this point in his life, physics is not scary or foreign. Sure it is a land with much (MUCH) more to explore but he has been there and as experienced the triumph of  understanding something in that space. This was particular important to me because when he made the non-newtonian fluid at home, I just gave him the ingredients with very basic instructions and he created it and then struggled to understand why it was acting so strange.  He was not convinced he made it correctly for a few tries.  To see him light up in the class room after seeing him struggle through the "discovery" was a highlight for me. 
You can watch some of the experiment from the show here.

In addition to the experiment that I described above, I have introduced Physics to my son thought a wonderful book I found at the Adler Planetarium called What is Physics All About?. I am a HUGE fan of the publisher, Usborne.  We own many of their titles and I love each and every one. It says it is for 11+ but it is accessible for younger learners and young learners can really grow with the book, discovering new parts each year. 

This year we are only working on understanding the vocabulary words and definitions that work with larger learning units like simple machines. I have found that I can build a lot of lessons around small sections of the book. The basic concepts you learn in the book come up often which is wonderful to experience. 

Be sure to check out the link for the book and click the quick links button, when you choose the area you are interested in it will direct you to MORE resources for the topic!!! GREAT Free educational resources make feel like I'm in the audience at an Oprah's Favorite Things taping.  

This is not a sponsored post.