The Magic of Science

by Daria Webber, Director
Bernice M. Wright Child Development Lab School
Department of Child and Family Studies

As I read an announcement: NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) Endorses the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Position Statement: Early Childhood Science Education, I found myself reflecting on how we integrate science into our curriculum at the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Lab School here at Syracuse University. We know that children are natural scientists, “discovery scouts” as one of my own children’s preschool teachers called them, and their everyday play is full of scientific exploration. They are daily using some the very basic principles of scientific inquiry that include identifying, comparing, contrasting, classifying and hypothesizing. Science requires children to be actively involved in their play and the process that is occurring. It is a very magical world to young children.

This idea is very apparent in science activity at our preschool. This summer, all of the classrooms had butterfly tents in them, and students followed the process of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. It began with the caterpillar, and the week culminated in the release of the butterflies on our playground. In between there was much discussion and activity at every stage. Children drew the chrysalis and made predictions about when the butterflies would emerge from the cocoon. They read books, which of course included Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and visited web sites to gain information. They fed them their orange slices, and observed and documented their progress. As I observed the joy and excitement with the children as they released the butterflies, I could see that all of the adults, including myself, were also experiencing the joy and magic of science as the butterflies flew away, and we made new predictions of what would happen now that they were free.