Observe an Expert Scientist

Baby1

Happy Baby Scientist and his sister

As you learn the process of science, wouldn't it be great to be able to watch expert scientists at work? By watching the way they approached new problems, tested ideas, and revised their views based on the evidence they collected, you could improve your understanding of how science works.

Luckily, you don't have to go to a university or a high tech research lab to watch an expert scientist at work. All you have to do is spend some time watching a baby or toddler.

Littlerob1

Happy Toddler Scientist

Littlerob2

What are these for?

A baby? Well, think about it for a minute. Scientists use observation and experimentation to learn about the world around them. That is exactly what babies do, as they learn how to crawl, how to walk, how to talk, etc. They have to learn the basic concepts of physics, understanding that things can fall, that it takes force to move something, that some things are harder to move than others, that different things make different sounds when they strike a hard object, that some things taste good, and some don't. All of this is done through observation and experimentation.

As the child grows and begins to talk, they still take a very scientific approach to the world. They quickly learn one of the most important words in science: "Why?" While it can be frustrating at times, (Drink your milk. Why? Don't do that. Why? Don't sit on the cat! Why?) it is their way of gathering information, learning from the experience of others, just as modern scientists learn from the works of Einstein, Faraday, and Tesla.

If you are lucky enough to have an infant to watch, give her a new, child-safe toy, and watch her investigate and experiment to find out what this new thing is, and what can be done with it. Be sure not to give her things that are not child safe. One of the first tests that most babies perform is the taste test, so the toy should not have any small parts, sharp edges, etc.

Keep notes as you watch, noticing each new experiment that is tried, each new thing that is learned. You may be surprised at how scientific the process is.

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