Shedding Light on Shadows
Ever since I started presenting workshops on Fred’s approach to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math), I’ve kept my ears open for stories of children’s questions about the world around them – and for the way their teachers respond.
So I was especially delighted with what I heard when I was observing my scientist friend Elaine's weekly lesson for 4 year olds. As soon as she came into the room, one of the boys came up to her and asked Why was my shadow so short yesterday? She was planning to talk about magnets that day, but I could see her switch gears when she heard the question, and I loved the way she responded.
Elaine gave full attention to his question, then she asked her own questions to help him think it through. When did he notice it? What time of day was it? He thought it was just after lunch. Then she gathered the children for the day’s lesson, but told them that first she was going to answer the boy’s question about his shadow. What a great way to let children know questions are important!
As I watched her, I thought about Fred’s great respect for children’s questions – and for their interest in everyday science, like their own shadows. He often introduced them to science integrating it with art, like he did on this video when he visited with a shadow artist.
Fred was just opening the door for STEAM concepts, but he always appreciated that teachers can take learning even further. Here are some ways you can bring STEAM learning to children’s interest in shadows:
With her demonstration, it was clear that the sun creates a different length shadow at different times of the day because of its position in the sky. I would bet that the children paid more attention to their shadows when they went outside – and maybe had even more questions, which is what scientists do!
Bring out the STEAM concepts.
Help children notice shadows in other places.
Just talking and playing about science can lead children to a real interest in scientific exploration. And just your interest in what they’re doing and talking about can nurture a lifelong curiosity about all sorts of STEAM concepts in the world around us.
"Children's curiosity always needs to be encouraged and supported. More important than what we say is letting our children know that we welcome their asking us about anything they don't understand. Just applauding and listening to a child’s questions can be all the encouragement he or she needs."
Let's Learn and Play About Shadows
Here are some fun ways to combine science and the arts.
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