Anytime you teach science, you should be teaching through the scientific method. First of all, it is the foundation for understanding all other subjects in science. Secondly, it fosters critical thinking skills and finally, I am increasingly convinced that it is becoming a lost art leading to shoddy conclusions.
So when my son asked if he could have sea monkeys as his next ‘pet’ after the death of his two beloved turtles, I jumped at the opportunity. It really is a fantastic way to introduce younger kids to the steps in the scientific method. It requires that you follow directions meticulously (procedure), and that you collect data and the most important part of course: observe, observe, observe. The sea monkey people have actually published several tips for raising sea monkeys but truth be told, you can experiment with what works best as part of the science fun. (For example, which window in your house do sea monkeys grow best in? Or do they grow better in sunlight or darkness?)
One of the reasons sea monkeys make such a great science experiment is that it requires observation. But more importantly for little kids, there’s stuff to observe. Unlike growing a plant which can take days or weeks, sea monkeys in the right conditions will grow in about 2 days. Even before they grow though, there’s stuff to see and observe. So every day, there’s something different to observe and do with the monkeys.
Another important part of the scientific method is collecting data accurately and correctly. What we’ve done is made a calendar on large poster board. Each square has enough space so that my son can draw a picture of what he sees and write a brief description.
Following directions is another key part of the scientific method. Kids need to learn that in science, you must follow directions exactly. With sea monkeys, you have to add things on different days, aerate the ‘tank’, and even precisely feed the little critters.
So if you’re looking for something easy and fun to do that has almost no chance of failing, make sure you add sea monkeys to your science experiment list this year.