Kids, Chemistry and Uncontrollable Giggles. What's going on in Preschool?

Kids, Chemistry and Uncontrollable Giggles. What's going on in Preschool?
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Laughter… Absolutely the most wonderful, joyous, loud laughter filling the halls, and where was it coming from? A preschool chemistry class. What? How could that be? Were the kids making funny faces? Had someone slipped on a banana peel?

Neither. These happy, hysterical preschoolers were spending the morning at The London Day School learning about polymers with volunteers from BASF. And this wasn’t the first time they had the chance to dive into the world of chemistry, as BASF has been working with students at my school since 2012 and loving every minute of it.

I’ve always felt that introducing kids to STEM and now STEAM, as art has been incorporated into the “must have” list as early as 18 months old, was important. The earlier we expose our little ones to subjects such as science, math and art, the better the chance that they will learn to love it, or at the very least, not be afraid of it. Waiting to introduce our kids to words like chemistry, engineering, or even multiplication only adds mystery and even fear that these are subject to “get through” in school, rather than look forward too.

So, when I decided it was time to disrupt the preschool landscape and open a school, STEM and STEAM were going to be part of our curriculum from day one. Building a relationship with one of the world’s largest and most innovative chemical company was something unexpected and wonderful!

It was early in 2012. BASF offered a program called Kids’ Lab, where BASF volunteers would come into elementary school classes and run Chemistry Day during National Chemistry Week. I bet you didn’t even know, there was something called National Chemistry Week!

As luck, would have it, one of our students’ moms worked at BASF and asked BASF and Molly Borst, who coordinates the science education program for BASF, if they would be willing to come to our kindergarten class. Although they had never presented Chemistry Day to a group of students that young, they agreed to do so, and our wonderful partnership was born.

Since that time, BASF has not only brought the program every year to our kindergarten kids, but now also offers it to our students in Pre-K. Some of these children being as young as four years old. Our kids have dug out pumpkins and examined seeds, run slime through their fingers, and created polymers with water and goo and lots of other messy, funny ingredients. It’s the funny noises that these experiments make when smooshed into the plastic containers that bring instant belly laughs and joy to our kids. And all this learning, investigating, and education is done while wearing protective glasses, aprons, and gloves making our kids feel like real scientists.

They never want the day to end…and thankfully, with BASF bringing the program to our local elementary schools, our kids have been able to participate for many years after they leave our classrooms. In fact, BASF has been able to track the progress of our students in the sciences through the years. They are seeing that the students exposed to science in preschool have a positive relationship with science as they get older. These kids are excited about science. They don’t want to get through science, they can’t wait for it to begin!

So what if you don’t have a preschool that offers science, or you just want to do more…how can you instill a love for the science with your child?

Bring science home. Science is simple.

If you want to teach your little ones about chemistry, start with baking. Mixing, measuring, and observing how the ingredients come together is a lot of fun. Add heat and what do you get? An experiment, cookies and a delicious treat.

Environmental science your thing? Divide and conquer. Have your kids help you sort your recyclables. Set some boxes aside, decorate them together and talk about why we recycle and how it helps keep our earth healthy.

Biology and ecology might seem like a stretch, but it’s easy to bring home as well. Get a few flower pots and some seeds and observe as your indoor garden grows with your child, or purchase a small butterfly kit online and watch as caterpillars create cocoons, and bloom into beautiful butterflies.

There are so many ways to bring science home and get your kids excited about it. By exposing our kids to opportunities at home and school, we are helping them to build a positive relationship with science that will be everlasting.

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