Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 1-5

4 min read

Raising Scientists and Problem-Solvers

Feb 11, 2021 8:00 PM

No matter what education or career background we as parents have, it is possible for us to raise our kids as young scientists. We've actually been exposed to the steps of the scientific method from an early age ourselves. By learning to identify this process in our lives, and helping our kids to engage in the scientific method in their own experiences, we can empower and encourage their ability to solve problems and make discoveries.

Consider this example: the beloved children's character Curious George often uses the scientific method to satisfy his notorious curiosity. In one episode, he attempts to figure out who made the scratches on one of Chef Pisghetti’s booths as he was obviously being blamed for the offense. He took note of what was happening (scratches were appearing on restaurant booths) and investigated why it was happening. It’s simple in its design: first, recognize a problem, next try to figure out why, then test your idea and analyze your results. Or, to put it in the two words I use to govern my Biology classroom, simply observe and wonder.


To observe is to pay attention to our surroundings, listen to the sounds around us, and watch what’s happening before our eyes. To observe involves asking questions like...What has changed? What is different? Is something wrong? What problems do we encounter? The key: focusing on what we notice. In order to solve a problem or make a discovery, we notice them first. We can encourage our children to observe by asking them questions like these and talking together about their thoughts and responses.

One of the easiest places to practice observing is outdoors, in nature. Allowing our kids to feel the grass and soil with their hands and feet, breathe in the scents, look closely and carefully at what's around them, find a bug to look at or a flower to admire--these are all ways of observing.

Observing can also be an integral part of our daily rhythms of life. Do you ever wake up one day and notice you are more tired today? Do you ever notice that your energy level decreases faster as the day goes on? Do you notice that your children are more antsy on a particular day or time of day?These are all observations in our daily lives, and we can point this process out to our children to increase their awareness. 

There is nowadays one behemoth barrier that often serves to stifle our curiosity and distract us from noticing and observation: our devices. When given a free moment (or even a busy one!), our attention now generally gravitates towards our devices, rather than our surroundings, environment, and even our own thoughts and feelings. Our children are being raised in a world where this gravitational pull toward devices is almost instinctive, but we can set a standard for them that fosters the scientific method.

Over time and with consistent modeling and encouragement, our children will likely start to engage in thoughtful observation and noticing, independent of our guidance. 

Observation alone, though, does not solve problems. Its necessary counterpart must also be encouraged in our kids as we raise them to be young scientists and problem-solvers: wonder.

Lower School Girl


Following observation, the next step is to then wonder about what we see, observe, and notice. There are two obvious meanings to the word wonder: to be curious or to stand in admiration of. Either definition can fit here. Once we (and our children) have recognized a problem or are curious about why something is happening, we can then propose, or in scientific terms, hypothesize, about why. 

Do you wonder if how much sleep your children get directly affects their academic performance or even their ability to focus? If you have a child in sports, do you wonder if they are getting enough sleep, protein, calories? These questions and thoughts are all part of the scientific method.

My husband used to work in finance for large clothing retailer. Of the many responsibilities he had, he was in charge of testing Black Friday promotions. One particular year, he told me that he was choosing 60 stores around the nation to run one promotion, while at the same time choosing another 60 stores to run a different promotion. His company had previously recognized that they were losing business on what was supposed to the busiest shopping day of the year (observe). He then began to wonder if the promotions weren’t as enticing as they used to be for their ever-changing client. So, he tested promotions, gathered the data, and then was able to draw conclusions on Black Friday shopping. I proceeded to jump with delight because he was inadvertently using the steps of the scientific method!

As we observe and wonder about things in our own lives, we can encourage our children to do the same in their own. And just like that, we set them on a journey through the steps of the scientific method. This method is not just a tool for science classes; its problem-solving steps can be applied to so many more areas of life. It consistently offers a template or pattern for which we can study a problem or issue and try to figure it out. Imparting this indispensable template and skill to our kids prepares them for whatever they may face in the future, raising the next generation of scientists and problem-solvers.

Krista Wood
Written by Krista Wood

Krista has years of experiencing teaching high school science. She currently teaches Biology at Worthington Christian School. She and her husband Philip have two teenage sons. She is passionate about instilling in her students a love for learning about God’s creation and helping them discover how they learn.