Family Science

Time at Home with your Kids

Schmahl Science has ideas for you!    There are many possibilities for science explorations you and your family can do at home.   We have developed lesson plans that will provide background information as well as detailed descriptions of fun activities.  Kids will discover a new understanding of specific topics while building their toolkit of scientific processes, approaches and techniques that scientists use every day in their own exploration.     Additional links are provided in each lesson plan for further research.   Just as many of our in school workshops begin with an engaging story to transition students to the day's topic, the lesson plans include a story-telling element to increase engagement and to extend the learning. 

We will be adding to the list of lesson plans regularly as we select workshops we offer for the in school classroom setting and modify them for use at home.   Investigation at home as a family opens up endless possibilities; you and your young scientists may start innovating some of your own!


Lola and the Moth

 This lesson begins with a story of child and mentor discovery as they explore the nature of moths. 

 Lola introduced me to the skill of “noticing” things. She said that to understand nature, one had to learn to be peaceful. I wouldn’t have to run around chasing nature, because the qualities of patience, external silence and internal quietness would attract nature to me. To learn from nature, it was critical to just “be” there and not “do” anything.      ...      By watching nature, we were able to design an experiment that helped us to see the hidden. Before we did our experiment, these insects were invisible to me.

Lola and Moth (pdf)


Lola and the Snail


 The impact of a mentor continues. 

She placed a snail and a thin piece of cactus on my magnifying glass. I watched as the snail grew inquisitive. Slowly, the snail extended its tentacles and body to better sense the cactus. Once the snail was on the cactus leaf, Lola encouraged me to slowly turn the glass over. This helped me to see the snail’s rasping tongue or radula. “Snails are gastropods, which is a Greek word meaning ‘stomach foot’. Snails have a broad flat muscular foot used for support and forward movement. This foot runs along the underside of the animal – essentially along its belly.”

Lola and the Snail (pdf)


Lola and the Rock


 A rock from the playground opens up a whole new world. 


Lola took a Fig Newton Cookie from her lunch bag. As she pushed the ends of the cookie towards its middle, she told me that compression of plate against plate gives birth to new landscapes. “Notice how cracks formed and how the cookie buckled and bulged. This is a model of a convergent boundary. The cookie made ‘mountains’ at the bulge and made the cracks (called faults) where it buckled. This is an example of when two continental plates crash into each other forming mountains like Mount Everest.”, she explained.       ...     Many might think the playground rock I found was merely an ordinary piece of granite. For me, I learned there is nothing ordinary in nature if one is ready to learn the story behind it.  

Lola and the Rock (pdf)


Lola and the Flower


 One of the many science stories that caught my imagination was when she explained that the flowers on the cactus would become fruit. 


"From the outside, a flower is very beautiful, and often has wonderful scents. Yet, if you look closely, you will notice that flowers are made of many different and mysterious parts, each of which has a specific purpose.   ...    Flowers have many qualities we can learn from – blooming in all kinds of environments and conditions. So always count your garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall”, she exclaimed.   

Lola and the Flower (pdf)


Lola and the Musical Instruments


As the sweeping choruses of frogs and crickets, mixed with refrain of the red-winged black birds, grew around me that warm spring day,  Lola opened my mind and heart to the music in the garden through the blending of observation and appreciation that characterizes the best of science. These approaches resonate with my growing love for nature that is forever continuing and deepening. 

Lola and the Musical Instruments (pdf)