Fostering Children’s Interest in Science Learning Through the Use of a Hands-On Gardening Activity
In this project, we reviewed existing understandings of how children and families engage in informal science learning during visits to museums and gardens. We then developed and implemented a learning workshop designed to increase children’s science learning and interest by engaging them in activities related to gardening and plant growth. Our workshop was titled “Little Farmers” and was a one-day event that took place at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum. The main goal was to facilitate parent-child interactions in an informal science learning setting. In order to do this, we developed several activities that included: seed planting, reading, coloring book, games, photo opportunity, and prompting signage. The visitors on the day of the workshop consisted of about 20 families with young children, ranging from 2 to 10 years of age. The most popular and engaging activity was the seed planting station, where parents and children worked together to plant the seeds and discuss the process of growth. We designed the workshop to be guided by the parent or the child in order to facilitate their interactions. However, lack of facilitation at each station led to low participation in several activities, including our games. Due to the low interest in our games, we chose to do a follow-up activity with a local Girl Scout troop to see if the games were effective. There was a positive response, which revealed that an older audience and increased facilitation was crucial to interest in the games, which led to learning. Overall, our workshop was a success at providing a space for parent-child interactions to engage in informal science learning.