I don’t know about your life, but mine seems to get busier and busier every day juggling work, home, family and friends. There always seems to be reasons to do things faster, just to get them done, to have time to do more things in the limited hours of the day. But the issue with faster and more is that there is little time to appreciate the details in life. Noticing details is a hallmark of a good scientist. Up close is where the discoveries are waiting, the ones that spark curiosity, make you wonder why or how or what and invite you to take another look, examine closer, or read more.
Life can be full of these moments of wonder, but you have to slow down to find them. Have you ever noticed that drops of water cling to your fingers before falling off or examined salt to that see each individual crystal is a cube? Have you ever wondered why little rays of light seem to dance on the table when shining through a glass of water or why cream swirls in a cup of coffee? These are the types of observations that invite your mind to question and ponder how the world works, which is exactly what we want our children to be doing. What do you notice? How does it feel? How does it smell? Does it remind you of anything? What do you think would happen if…? The right question at the right time can help children focus on details, make connections and lead them to deeper learning.
One thing you should know about me is that I carry a pocket microscope in my purse, and I use it all the time. Just today I was showing my coworker, Brenda, an insect I found outside our door. It was some type of beetle I had never seen before, but the colors were amazing; lines of emerald green running down its wing edged with magenta, iridescent blues, purples and copper on its back, silver eyes made of hundreds of tiny lenses. Noticing these things myself makes me a curious person, but sharing what I am curious about with others is when the magic happens; when Brenda gets curious and calls to another coworker inviting her to look closer. We wondered together what kind of insect it might be, why its eyes have so many lenses and what the world must look like through them. You don’t have to wait for rainbows to feel the wonder of living, and the more you can model wonder for children, the more children will appreciate the world around them and want to know more about it.