Impromptu Science Talk

Children in Dirt

By Liza Blair

I love this time of year. The weather is warm; the days are sunny and bright; flowers are blooming; it’s a wonderful time for outdoor play and exploring nature. And, it’s the ideal time to plant a garden.

A few weeks ago, my kids helped me build our raised garden beds. My daughter held the boards while my son drilled in the screws. Once we were finished, it was time to dig out the sod and add new soil. Normally, this would seem like dredge work, but for my kids, it was a chance to investigate.

With each piece of sod I removed, my son found different wonders embedded in the soil: worms, beetles, frayed root systems, collapsed insect tunnels. Instantly, what started as yard work quickly turned into an impromptu science discussion with my son happily telling me all he knows about dirt and worms.

This happens a lot at our house. What starts as one thing quickly turns into something completely unexpected. For most of us, this is not new. Part of being a parent and educator is challenging our kids to think beyond the immediate and incorporate the connections between things. To know when things happen underground, it matters to what’s happening above ground.

I’m not a scientist, but I love exploring science with my kids. Gardening is a great way to incorporate the science of life cycles, habitats, insects, and plants into easy, fun family discussions.

After you’ve spend long days in the garden, here’s a great treat to enjoy as a reward for your hard work. Enjoy!

Strawberry Ice Pops

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl.
  • Let sit until the strawberries start releasing their natural juices, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Place in a saucepan with the water over medium heat.
  • Simmer until they are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Let cool at room temperature.
  • Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice, and puree until smooth.
  • Divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours.

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