Today, we welcome back Tracy Zollinger Turner, of Tiny Mantras. Tracy is the mother of a four-year-old astronomer (above) and has been sharing her tips for encouraging a child's love of science. You can read the first part of our interview here.
Welcome back to Mama Joules, Tracy! I've gathered from reading your blog that astronomy was not one of your primary interests prior to your son falling in love with Jupiter (and the rest of the universe). How do you foster your son's love of astronomy?
For someone like me, I think remembering the connection between art and science (or science and everything!) has been helpful. I bring the science he likes into projects I enjoy more. We make planets and galaxies and nebulas out of clay. Or we do things like make egg tempera paint and encourage color mixing so there's a scientific process that's part of painting.What suggestions (for websites, books, etc.) do you have for parents of other would-be astronomers?
Tracy and her son made these planets and stellar objects
out of Play-Doh and FIMO clay.
I've promoted his interest in letters and reading by spelling and helping him write space-related words (we have used so many space metaphors in this house). When you actively notice what your child responds to, it gets easier to realize that shimmery fabrics can be used for imaginative play when he feels like being a comet or a black hole, crystals that hang in the window make rainbows around the house, and that it's okay for an apple to be sacrificed in the name of understanding gravity now and then.
There are plenty of great astronomy sites out there, but few of them have stuff for younger kids. I like KidsAstronomy.com. There are science songs and reasonably simple games there.
Television, Music & Books
[My son] loves watching Powers of Ten, which may be one of the best videos ever made when it comes to illustrating the vastness of the universe, as well as the microverse! The TV show Zula Patrol is actually pretty great [too].
They Might Be Giants CD, "Here Comes Science" is our new soundtrack around here. It's actually taught or reminded me of a number of basic [scientific] concepts.
I wrote a post a while back about some of the astronomy books for kids that I like. [Note from Mama Joules to Tracy: Kerm reviewed George's Secret Key to the Universe; he thought it was great!]
Places to Visit
We've used Google Earth a lot to find our house, and [my son's] favorite places nearby from space. Incidentally, his favorite places are...
COSI - our local science center
Perkins Observatory - where the telescope was formerly the most high-powered in Ohio and used for astronomical research. It's now an educational center with lots of old-school astronomy displays, and lots of volunteer amateur astronomers who love to help people of any age develop a love of space and telescopes.
We have had the chance to go to a couple of NASA sites - one was a rare open house. [NASA scientists] are really good at figuring out how to talk to and educate kids!
Of course, we want to take him to Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Hayden Planetarium in NYC, the Air and Space Museum in DC and any [other] NASA site that we can, but we haven't had the chance just yet.
Tracy, those are some wonderful suggestions. I know that I will be visiting those websites soon. Thank you so much for stopping by!
If you'd like to contact Tracy, or read further about her adventures with her astronomy-loving preschooler, please visit her at her blog, Tiny Mantras. She is also the occasional host for the Carnival of Space, a must-read if you want to keep up with astronomy in the blogosphere.
Photo credits: Tracy Zollinger Turner (used with permission)