Why Science Experiments?
Kids love experiments, and few kids get their fill in crowded science classrooms. That creates a perfect opportunity for grandparents to step in. The next time the grandkids visit, be ready with the raw materials for a home science experiment. They'll love it! And, if you've done your homework, you'll be ready to engender some real learning.
To make the most of your experiment, you'll need to prepare ahead of time. The first -- and most important -- reason to prepare is safety's sake. You don't want anything bad to happen to the grandchildren on your watch. The second reason is also important. Science experiments shouldn't be mere parlor tricks. They should add to the grandkids' knowledge of their world. Although you want the little scientists to draw their own conclusions, you'll need to be well-prepared to point them in the right direction.
Lessons to Teach
Emphasize to the grandchildren that they are never to engage in experimentation on their own. Point out to them that there are substances in the average home that are deadly when mixed (chlorine bleach and ammonia, for one example). This is a good opportunity to talk about the scientific method. Scientists ask a question, do research and predict what the outcome will be before they ever begin an experiment. Predicting outcomes enables scientists (and grandparents and grandkids) to be prepared.
What to Buy
I've bought some science kits and haven't been impressed. It's easy to do science experiments at home without buying special kits. Having said that, however, I will admit that I love the little test tubes, beakers, stirrers and other gadgets that come with the science kits. If your purpose is to make a kid fall in love with science, cool accessories are a plus. Safety goggles are a smart precaution but also will add to the element of fun. Make a lab coat from a man's white shirt, or buy a vinyl lab apron for a few bucks. Get one for Grandpa, too.