Building Science Skills
Tips for Parents
Observe the moon together over several weeks; note whether you arelooking at it at the same time every day or at different times. (You and yourchild could do this exercise once a year for several years -- perhaps at adifferent season each year -- and learn something new each time.) Note themoon's location and draw its various shapes; be aware of the stars around it.Examine the moon chart in the weather section of your daily newspaper or on acalendar. There is almost no end to the astronomical observations you and yourchild can make. If, like many parents, you are not especially familiar with thesky, this exercise will be a good learning experience for you as well as foryour child.
Ask about the scientists your child is currently studying. Are men andwomen represented? What about people of color? What does your child know aboutthese scientists and their work?
What does your child know about the effects of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol,marijuana, cocaine, heroin? Keep in touch with what your child is learning aboutdrugs and drug abuse. Does he or she show a growing awareness of drugs as aproblem? You should be aware that many sixth graders are beginning to experimentwith drugs. Your local library or a counselor can suggest books that will helpprepare you to discuss this subject with your child.
See what your child knows about the digestive system. Ask, "How doesfood change as we digest it?"
What does your child know about the different functions of red and whiteblood cells? (The red carry oxygen; the white fight infection.)
Ask what happens when we inhale and exhale. (Inhaling draws oxygen into thebody; exhaling expels carbon dioxide.)
Science studies in the sixth grade continues to give attention to thesources of common things and to everyday processes. You and your child caninvestigate questions such as "Why do magnets pick up some metals and notothers?" "How does electricity travel?" "How are moviesmade?"
Your child is studying the role of technology in society. Ask about howtelevision has changed people's lives. What was daily life like beforetelevision (not all that long ago)? You can also talk about how medical researchis keeping people alive longer, and how robots are doing much of the work inautomobile factories.
Go birdwatching (or bird counting) with a local nature group. Invest in apaperback pocket guide to the bird species commonly seen in your area; togetheryou and your child can learn how to identify species and study their habits.Each time you go to a park, a wildlife preserve, or a bird sanctuary you willlearn something new about birds. Your child -- and you -- may discover alifetime of enjoyment in observing nature.
Inquire about the local ecosystem. What does your child know about the foodchain and how species of birds, fish, insects, and mammals fit into it?
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 6th Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.