Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Young Children and Science

We know that children are very inquisitive, eager learners. They have the ability to learn so many things about the world around them. To help young children effectively learn and build upon their lived experiences, all they need is some guidance that is developmentally appropriate for their age and the opportunity to explore on their own.

Guiding Principles for Young Children and Science

All children participate in different ways.

  • Activities can be differentiated, make them developmentally appropriate for each child.
  • Science is for everyone, not just a few groups of students.
  • All children learn at different speeds.

Science connects to real life.

  • Draws from children’s experiences.
  • Explored deeply over time.

Children work together.

  •  Children learn from each other.
  •  Children help explain and teach at times.
  •  Children observe each other.


Teacher Roles

Teachers take active and supportive roles, but help students learn from each other instead of telling kids how to do it. Some things to consider in your role include:

Staying focused

  • Think about the learning outcomes at hand
  • How do these activities connect to other areas of your curriculum?

Being an active observer

  • What do you notice that the students are interested in?
  • What are some questions they are asking?
  • What are some challenges that they are coming across? How can you or other students guide them?

Getting involved at their level

  • Participate in parallel play
  • Create an environment that is visual and appealing at their eye level

Facilitating learning from each other

  • Encourage group play
  • Ask students to share their experiences during Science Talks
  • Give a student the opportunity to share a discovery with another student