A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Foreword

This book provides examples of a few simple activities we can do with our children. It is an introduction to the wealth of material in many other books available in libraries and bookstores. It might also inspire us to make up our own experiments to see why and how things turn out the way they do.

Science is not something mysterious. Being "scientific" involves being curious, observing, asking how things happen, and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need help understanding how to make sense of what they see.

Parents help their children learn--by reading to and with them, by helping them learn to count and calculate, by helping them begin to write, and in many other ways.

Most parents, though, say they do not--or cannot--help their children with science. But we don't need degrees in chemistry or physics to help our children. All we need is a willingness to observe and learn with them, and, above all, to make an effort and take the time to nurture their natural curiosity.

Achieving a higher degree of skill in science and math is one of the national education goals. AMERICA 2000, the long-term national education strategy designed to accomplish these goals, and which was announced by President Bush on April 18 of this year, points out how important our role as parents is:

Most of all, it will take America's parents--in their schools, their communities, their homes--as helpers, as examples, as leaders, as demanding shareholders of our schools to make the AMERICA 2000 education strategy work--to make this land all it should be.
AMERICA 2000 reminds us that "For schools to succeed, we must look beyond their classrooms to our communities and families."

We can use this book to have fun with our children while they learn. Whether we're baking a cake, filling the bathtub, or walking through the park, we can invite our children into the wonders of science. Often when we least expect it, a moment for learning will occur: a dollop of ice cream drops on the sidewalk and ants appear.

Our national education goals made becoming literate in science important for all Americans. The President and the Governors have set these challenging goals, and it is up to all of us to do our best to help our children learn what they will need to know in order to live and work in today's world and in the next century. As always, starting early is important--and perhaps never more so than with science.

As U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander has said, "There are new World Class Standards in math, in science, in history, in geography, and in English that we must meet today, standards that were not necessary to meet even 10 or 20 years ago."

So, let's get started by finding an activity in this book and trying it.

Bruno V. Manno
Acting Assistant Secretary
Office of Educational Research and Improvement

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