Grow Your Own Scientist

Written by Samantha Burns,, Articles by Homeschoolers for Homeschoolers

How do you grow a scientist exactly? Why would anyone want to grow a scientist?

And I say to you, that everyone should be a scientist in one manner or another. Science is in everything that surrounds us on any given day. It is the natural world that we live in. It is the technology that we have developed. Everyday we are bombarded with scientific messages, but if there is a misrepresentation, or a garbling of important bits of information, you will be none the wiser unless you possess a firm comprehension of the nature of science.

Currently there is a deficiency of science understanding among the general public. But by teaching our children basic science concepts, and the scientific method, we can instil in them a fair grasp of what this world is all about. Such an understanding will carry humanity into the future, where we will face environmental dilemmas, economical issues, and whatever else the untold future holds in store for us.

We will undoubtedly need scientists, and more of them, not fewer.

So how can we raise our children to be citizen scientists? Easy: start young.

Allow your babies, toddlers and preschoolers the free range to explore the natural world around them. Encourage their natural curiosity and allow them to investigate. Even toddlers can benefit from time spent with Daddy looking at a caterpillar on a leaf, or exploring the effects of a stone thrown into a muddy puddle (– or even exploring the effects of mud in the mouth!). Provide the youngster with a simple plastic magnifying glass and he’ll be occupied for hours, investigating the natural world around him.

As your budding scientists grow older, don’t wait to begin a formal science education. Start science young, about six years of age. Begin by furnishing your home library with a plethora of reference books. You should own various volumes of the Audubon Society’s Field Guides, and other materials intended for mature audiences, as well as age appropriate science resources. Some good ones are Eyewitness books, DK books, the Lets-Read-and-Find-Out series, and Usborne books, but there are plenty to choose from. Also, stock up on science-materials for your homeschool, things like a magnet-set, a scale or balance, insect collecting supplies, a microscope and accessories, binoculars, a telescope, safety gear, and posters, too.

Formal science education can be approached in a multitude of ways, but the main thing to keep in mind when you’re purchasing or creating science curriculum is that science is a hands-on subject. The scientific method dictates that we first study, then question and hypothesize, before testing our theories.

Any science program should host plenty of experiments and hands-on activities in order for the students to be able to fully grasp a concept. Don’t bother toning it down too much; you’ll be surprised by even the youngest learner’s grasp on the concepts.

Parents can role model good science skills by staying current on science news: read science publications like Discover, American Scientist, and National Geographic.  Participate in the annual species counts performed by the Audubon Society (you can do a search online for an office near you!), make it a family project.  Continue to explore the world around you by following your innate curiosities, refer to your reference books when you come across something unfamiliar.  Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something — just go look it up in a book, or online; this will show your children that you’re never too old to stop learning.

As homeschoolers we possess the ability to teach our students science in a different way than generations before have learned it.  We can ensure a science understanding in tomorrow’s society in the hopes that our children and grandchildren might face the problems of the future with the best tools possible.

Samantha Burns is a self-taught homeschool teacher to 2 sons, and wife 10 years to a citizen scientist. You can visit her website at

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