We are always excited to try out new ways to have fun with science, and the prospect of “open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science” sounded a perfect way to add to our activities without greatly adding to my preparation time (evening are, after all, busy with folding socks and picking up toys while hobbling over a carpet of Lego) so when we got a year long free trial of Mystery Science I was over the moon.
The lessons are a fascinating insight into the classroom work of an inspirational American teacher and, although initially designed for classroom use, the set up is ideal for home educators as well as schooled families looking for weekend science fun. With handy printables and easy to obtain equipment for practical investigations to complement the presentations, it couldn’t be simpler to set up each lesson (especially since our kitchen cupboards are an Aladdin’s cave of ‘Things that will be useful one day and are not, despite appearances to the contrary, trash’)
The website has sets of lessons grouped by topic and age, and we have been following the suggested home school unit sequence to get the most out of the way the level of detail progresses, although we have also dipped into other lessons later in the sequence when they were relevant to something that the boys were investigating at the time.
A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday, and despite my suggestion that we make use of our annual pass and head to the local zoo, the boys dug their heels in – it was Monday which means Mystery Science day, so that was what they wanted to do.
The mystery for the day was ‘Why do we wear clothes?’ as part of the Material Magic set of lessons. The boys watched a presentation which guided them to think up the properties of different materials, and which ended in a challenge to produce a sun hat from materials found in a lunch box, including a paper plate and some string.
The mixture of presentation, questioning and video clips is really engaging to the boys, but their favourite section each lesson is the practical part. In this lesson the boys had great fun testing the properties of each material (the materials were tested so thoroughly for absorbency we had to obtain new resources) and finally constructing their sun hats, with great screams of laughter at how silly we looked.
I could have picked any of the lessons we have completed so far to write about as they have all been great fun, and have lent themselves well to sharing with friends who came over to play, such as when we tested the meltability of sweets (and of course had to taste test them too, even though this wasn’t strictly on the lesson plan).
Better than a trip to the zoo? The kids have voted that it was (and given that it was a typical English January – i.e. greyer than my roots and soggier than my baking – I’d have to agree with them).
NB this post is not sponsored, we got the free trial no strings attached and decided to offer a review as it fits the bill for friends who keep messaging me about fun ways to engage their kids with science at home as they have found it to be non existent in their primary schools.