Want your child to fall in love with physics? This expert has some tips on how you can get your child interested in the subject.
By Jasmine Kaur
According to encyclopedia Britannica, physics ‘deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe.’ It is an important discipline because it studies the universe and has contributed immensely over the years to the development of various technologies. But, physics can also be tricky and some children find it tough to grasp.
We talked to Dr R Srinivasa Raghavan, a principal and a physics teacher from Chennai, on how to make the subject more interesting for your child. Following is an excerpt:
Why do you find physics interesting?
Physics is about reality. You can connect what you see with what you learn. It is unlike mathematics or chemistry, which deal with abstracts. Secondly, in physics we are able to quantify and measure most things. When objects fall from a height, you can measure the time it will take that object to reach the ground because of gravity. Newton didn’t just see the apple falling, he saw the rules governing celestial systems too. Looking at how small systems work, you can extrapolate and discover how big systems work and that is fascinating.
How did you first develop a liking for the subject?
I got passionate about the subject by teaching it and working with the equipment in the lab. Hands-on experiences made physics interesting for me. Hands-on experimentation gives you a better and deeper understanding of the subject.
Did your parents or teachers help you with physics?
My parents were not in a position to teach me the subject. Neither did I go for any classes. Whenever you want to try something, you should read books and research the subject on your own. Moreover, you can work with things that are available at home and use them as improvised tools. This way we can understand many concepts.That is also how I did it. For example, I once tried to make a hot air balloon with newspaper, blade, ropes and boxes of lactogen. When I burned the ingredients, it literally lifted.
What tips do you have for parents who are trying to make physics interesting for their children?
Parents need to allow their children to experiment, even if it’s something silly like putting salt in milk. Science is about seeing what happens when you bring two elements together.
A child’s curiosity is curbed because of our inhibitions about safety and wastage. Instead of buying children beautiful clothes and toys, buy them small things like balloons and other things and encourage them to do some experiments at home.
Thomas Edison invented the bulb not by scoring marks, but by trying to make it himself. Encourage your child to invent small things and then one day, she’ll move on to bigger things. Even if you are not an inventor you will at least remember what you learned from your experiments. You do not need to be a physicist to learn physics.
What techniques can parents use to make physics interesting for children at home?
Nowadays there are many videos available on the Net about various science experiments. Parents should show children these experiments and allow them to work on a few at home. The experiment may not always be successful, but that’s okay, as they will learn from these failures.
Parents could also help create a science club for children, get materials for them and help them make science projects. If children have doubts or questions, they can join online educational forums, where they can discuss their doubts.
What’s the best way to learn physics?
Experiential learning is very important when it comes to science, but more so for physics and technology. This method makes children enthusiastic about learning. In theoretical learning, you need a teacher or a coach and children need more guidance and training.
So, according to you experiential learning and improvised learning are some of the best techniques to get children interested in physics?
Yes. Children should also read science magazines and scientific journals that tell readers about the latest developments in the world of science. Reading these will inspire children. They may not comprehend what the development exactly is, but they would understand where it is being used and that would make them want to understand the concept.
Physics in not about getting higher marks in examinations, it’s about learning, even if it is outside the classroom. So, give your child plenty of scope to experiment and fall in love with physics.
About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 19 January 2019.
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