Tinker Tots: Science for young children
By Terry Georgia
There is nothing quite as magical as seeing the wonder in a child’s eyes when they discover something new. Wonder and glee fill the room when little ones gather at the Berthoud Community Library once a month for a science-based program called Tinker Tots.
Designed for three to six-year-olds (accompanied by an adult), Tinker Tots aims to introduce young children to learning and exploration. “Besides being tons of fun,” explains Youth Instructor and Research Librarian, “Miss Christy” Headrick. “It’s a great way to introduce science and scientific method to young children,” she explained, “Kids are naturally great scientists because they’re always asking “why?” and they’re always wondering about things.”
On the day the Surveyor visited, the lesson was about air — what it’s made of, how it moves and how it can move other things. The lessons and experiments are very interactive, allowing all of the children to participate as much or as little as they chose. Whatever hesitation the children may have had quickly disappeared as Miss Christy masterfully engaged them in a variety of experiments.
To show how air can move things, she gave each child small, colorful pompoms and had them blow the puffs across the table, explaining that even though you can’t see it, air can move with different degrees of force, such as their breath or wind.
The next demonstration illustrated how temperature makes air move. Headrick explained that cold air sinks and hot air rises. She asked the children to pretend to be hot air, while she pretended to be cold air. As each “hot air” child ran toward her “cold air,” she’d grab them and lift them toward the ceiling. The hot air squealed with delight every time.
Another experiment involving a balloon that was supposed to propel itself (by air power) along a string, didn’t work well. Headrick, quickly pivoted the lesson to explain that, “In science, the experiments don’t always work out the way you think they might.” A valuable lesson in the scientific process.
Headrick credited child educator Genevieve Brusilow as the creator of Tinker Tots and the experiments she uses for the classes. “This is why I love being a librarian,” Headrick said with a smile, “to share and give out information to everyone.” She said she specifically looked for a program targeted to preschool children in order to prepare them for science once they enter school. “The schools in Berthoud do such an awesome job from elementary on up in providing science for students,” she said, “We’re just trying to fill the gap.” She added that the little ones already have a natural curiosity and she simply wants to encourage them to keep asking questions about the natural world.
The last experiment of the day was the most exciting for the children and adults alike. Working together, they inflated balloons by creating carbon dioxide from vinegar and baking soda. As the balloons grew bigger, so did the eyes of every child. The wonders of science had clearly captivated their imaginations.
Miss Christy hosts Tinker Tots for 3-6 year old children and their grown-ups once a month at the Berthoud Community Library. Registration is required.
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