Isabella the Science Girl Shows Teachers and Students That Science Knows No Age Limit

Isabella is a 5-year-old super science kid who lives in Caguas, Puerto Rico. She has been conducting science experiments since she was two years old.

Isabella is a very curious child. She wants to know how things work, she’s very interested in nature, animals, the weather all those things fascinate her. When she was a toddler we took her to a children’s museum and she was fascinated with the exhibits about the human body and wanted to know how everything worked; ears, eyes, tongue etc.. After that all she wanted was to know how things work and how they are made. Some of her questions were; why are plants green? Why the colors in the rainbow? How thunders happen? What is the moon? What is the sun? What is a hurricane? She observed and wanted to know.

- Isabel Gandulla, Isabella’s mom

Isabella’s first experiments were simple – focusing on basic and acid solutions using baking soda to see which liquids could create a reaction. She ran around the house looking for more liquids to mix and see if they would react.

Now, every night at her bedtime, Isabella picks a theme, like how to make paper. Her mom helps her find an appropriate YouTube video to watch. After watching, they discuss the video. That’s how her family discovered Steve Spangler Science. Isabella watches the videos or reads the books and then creates experiments.  She’s done exploding volcanos, non newtonian fluids, bacteria growth, experiments with balloons, how to extract chlorophyll from a leaf, the list is quite long.

“I guess, we saw a spark in her and we realized we had to feed that spark and help her grow,” added her mom.

This past school year, Isabella was in Pre-K and Puerto Rico experienced a tropical storm. To learn more about what she had experienced, Isabella researched how a storm forms, low pressure zones and centrifugal force. She gave a presentation to her class and shared what she had learned.

Isabella  had such a passion for science, she wanted to participate in the school science fair. The school did not allow Pre-K students to enter the fair.  Instead, her preschool teacher set up a science week. The Pre-K kids were able to share their science projects with their class and participate in some fun science-themed activities.

During the science week, their amazing teacher borrowed Isabella’s science books from Steve Spangler. The class performed some of Steve’s experiments including bubbles and Mentos and Diet Coke geysers. The teacher also lined up visits from real scientists like doctors and dentists.

A few of Isabella’s other science projects this year included a study of different types of combustibles and how they make things go. She also conducted an experiment on bacteria. She harvested bacteria from her fingernails, mucus, saliva and her dog’s saliva and allowed it to grow in petri dishes for a week. After a week, she added alcohol, hand sanitizer and hydrogen peroxide to the bacteria farm to see how it would kill the germs. Her results inspired her to start a campaign at her school to encourage hand washing, not biting fingernails and throwing used tissues in the trash.

Her mom, Isabel, says “to actually see the dirty bacteria growing makes it tangible and fun for her.”

Isabella also loves dinosaurs and animals of all kinds. Maybe she is a veteranarian in training?

Needless to say, Isabella’s parents are bursting with pride over their dynamo. Did we forget to mention she’s a well-rounded kid? Isabella is fluent in both English and Spanish, is learning to read, write and some basic math. She enjoys sports and art…she’s active in karate, ballet, drums and a veteran at her tennis club. If that isn’t enough, Isabella is also trying out for her swimming team. Because she is so young, if she makes the team, Isabella will be placed in a special group. She is determined to be the youngest member of the team.

This is one motivated kid! Her parents say they are enjoying every minute of their journey and work hard to juggle and make things work for their amazing daughter.

 

 

Create a Rainbow in a Bag – Pinch and Mix Color Mixing

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

I’m occasionally asked by teachers and school groups to bring in a few hands-on science experiments for a class. One of my all-time favorite go -to activity is color mixing with Pinch and Mix goo. Steve Spangler Science sells and all-in-one Pinch and Mix Kit for 30 students or a smaller group. You can also use gel cake frosting if you want to do it yourself.

Start this activity with a literature connection by reading the book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Mouse Paint is a delightful story about three white mice who discover jars of red, yellow, and blue paint. Creativity ensues as the mice explore what happens when they begin to play in the puddles of paint. Wondrously, the three primary colors they began with become secondary colors as they play.

Now it is your turn to delight and discover. Discuss what the mice found and what happened after they were coated in one color paint and messed about in another color. Then make your own color connections by pretending you are little mice mixing the colors in your zipper-lock bag!

Squeeze 1 to 2 tablespoons of each color of goo into the bag. It’s best if you place one color in each corner and one in the middle. Then gently squeeze air out of the bag and seal it. Pinch and mix the colors together by blending the primary into secondary colors. The bag will start to take on a soft, stained glass look.

Hold it up to a light or a sunny window.

Some kids will gently and carefully blend their colors, but most will grab and squish the bag until the colors turn army green, grey and putrid purple. Don’t worry about a failed activity; the kids will still find beauty and discovery in their crazy-made colors.

Make sure you keep a Sharpie nearby, because the kids will want to bring home their creations.

For more on this fun and colorful activity, visit the Pinch and Mix Experiment page.

Prevent Summer Learning Loss by Keeping It Fun

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

For parents who want to encourage their kids to stay on top of their studies without cramming books and lessons down their throats, here are a few ideas to keep their minds strong over the summer.

Science

  • Start with the Steve Spangler Science Summer Science Experiment Guide for tons of ideas for amazing science experiments.
  • Check out an astronomy program at an observatory or museum.
  • Find a smaller or less popular museum that you have never visited and try it out.
  • Turn a museum visit into a Scavenger Hunt. Visit the website first then when at the museum, try to find the exhibits seen on the website.
  • Take a hike or walk and try to identify birds, rocks, trees, plants, types of clouds or whatever you see.
  • There are a lot of summer science camps and nature camps out there. Find a program that will enrich your child’s love for science.
Math
  • Bring out the traditional board games like Monopoly, Battleship, Clue, Uno or Chess to practice a little math.
  • Cook or bake together. Recipes use fractions and it’s a great real-world experience to see them in action.
  • Play math games on the computer or tablet. There are tons of educational apps that feel like arcade games vs. a learning drudge. Try Murky Reef, Math Bingo, Motion Math.
  • A book series by Johnny Ball presents math and number play in unique and fun games. Start with Go Figure! A Totally Cool Book About Numbers.
  • IXL is a math website that challenges and presents fun ways to learn math. It is also used by a lot of schools.
  • Also try  Multiplication.com. They offer math games for all of the basic math skills - Addition and Subtraction.
  • Learn about investing. Join a Junior Investment Program and calculate your compounding interest. How long will it take you to become a millionaire?

Reading

  • Form your own book club within your family or friends. Set a goal for reading six books during the summer months and then discuss. Sharing and talking about a book increases reading comprehension.
  • When reading with your child this summer, make sure they pick books that challenge, instead of allowing them to only read books that are too easy.
  • Join a library summer reading program
  • Play some traditional games like Scrabble to practice language skills. You can go higher tech and jump on Words with Friends.
Find the Learning in Everything
  • Get out of the house! Visit the zoo, or museum and read the signs. Don’t let them just push all the buttons and run around, stop and really look at the exhibits. It’s incredibly tough to stop touching and clicking buttons, but well worth it.
  • Take a mini vacation that involves a lesson – I’ve taken my kids to Mesa Verde in Southern Colorado and Yellowstone for geologic features. When they can see and touch what they’ve learned in school, it makes a huge difference.
  • Take a vacation to a historic location like Boston or Washington D.C. Bring history to life!
  • Plan a virtual vacation. Pick a place on the map. Research airfares, fly times, distance in miles and kilometers and then put together a virtual itinerary once you arrive.
  • Eat at an ethnic restaurant to practice a foreign language and get a quick peek into another culture.
  • Play with blocks and Legos.
  • Make toothpick and marshmallow structures.
  • Limit TV and electronics time.

 

 

Here are some activities and lessons from some of our favorite, the Kid-Blogger Network.

Kids Lose Up to Two Months of Skills – Keep Them Learning All Summer Long

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Kids look forward to it, while their parents and teachers are concerned about it. It’s summer learning loss – the buzz phrase that describes what happens when kids aren’t in class for two to three months over the summer.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math. They also score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they did on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

Reading skills suffer too, but only for kids in lower socioeconomic status. Kids in middle class families tend to participate in local library reading programs and read with their families.

Research has shown teachers spend around four to six weeks re-teaching material that students forgot over the summer.

To prevent some learning loss, introduce fun, flexible and unstructured learning activities. This advice comes from Susanne Bell and Natalie Carrillo (2007) who studied organized summer learning programs like summer camps. They found the most effective programs set clear learning goals but didn’t teach kids in a traditional, institutionalized way. The programs wove academic lessons into lots of field trips and new skills.

Steve Spangler Science is dedicated to continuing and developing learning and discovery no matter if children are in or out of school. Learning should never take a break. Our Summer Science Experiment Guide (Outdoor Edition), contains 11 activities and 23 full-color pages.

(Download a sample PDF.)

In addition to our Summer Science Experiment Guide, we will be providing Summer Science Activities on our blog and website to keep the kids learning while having fun at the same time. To get started, check our Sick Science! Summer Camp from last summer for even more experiment ideas.

What do you do to inspire your kids to never stop learning?

On Monday, we will share ideas to keep kids learning all summer long.

 

Resources - National Summer Learning Association, Parenting Science, Today.com