The overall goals of children's development in science are to deepen their conceptual understandings of the world around them, to increase their comprehension of how science is practiced and to develop their abilities to conduct scientific investigations. Adults can help children achieve these goals with a supportive environment.
Two-year-olds are highly curious about unfamiliar objects, events and phenomena. They gather information using all their senses and motor skills. They also notice what happens as the result of certain actions and are beginning to categorize objects into groups. Their early language skills make descriptions of observations and experiences challenging, but they can make simple statements and use gestures to help communicate ideas.
Continues to explore using senses. Shows curiosity about unfamiliar objects, events and phenomena (e.g., may wonder things like, "What's inside?", "Does this make a noise?", "Can I lift this?").
Gathers information using all five senses (touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, and smelling). Notices what happens as the result of certain actions. Begins simple categorizing (e.g., cats and dogs are animals, cups and plates are dishes). Begins to sequence by size (e.g., stacking rings, nesting cups).
May use motion or sound to represent observations (e.g., shows with hands how big or fast, makes sounds of animals).
Can make simple statements about what he or she experiences.
Engages in some cooperative play and finds greater enjoyment in explorations with peers.
Identifies various properties (e.g., hard v. soft, sweet v. salty, heavy v. light) of objects and materials while exploring immediate environment.
Builds vocabulary for talking about characteristics of sound and light (e.g., loud, dark).
Enjoys playing with water (e.g., pouring, splashing). Repeats actions, noticing their effect. Notices variations in liquids (e.g., soap is thicker than water, apple juice is yellow).
Experiments with how objects move by pushing, pulling, dropping, sinking, etc. He or she also notices the movement of people and things in everyday life.
Learns to identify some plants and animals. Can name some parts of animal bodies (e.g., tail, ears) and some parts of plants (e.g., leaves, flowers). Begins to identify characteristics of animals, especially their sounds, size and color. Is also curious about his or her own body and the bodies of others. Notices and learns the names for various body parts.
May know that pets need food or plants need water because he or she helps with these tasks. Begins to understand some personal needs (e.g., food for hunger, clothing or blankets for warmth).
Often views movement as a sign that something is living.
Notices that there are different kinds of animals and may make some basic comparisons. (e.g., child may say, "The dog is bigger than the cat.")
Typically enjoys playing with sand, dirt and water. Begins building vocabulary for talking about their properties (e.g., soft, heavy, wet).
Experiences changes in weather, and may develop associations with particular weather conditions (e.g., needs boots when there is snow on the ground).
Learns the names for the sun and the moon.