Buildings are made of a variety of materials, chosen for their physical properties, and are designed in a variety of styles and shapes to suit their purposes. Why is the roof of a house slanted? What kinds of challenges do builders face as they construct houses, bridges and tall buildings? And what kinds of machines help people build these structures? Next time you talk a walk with your child, try these ideas for encouraging neighborhood science.
Describing stone: As your child looks closely at the different kinds of stone used for buildings, encourage her to look carefully to describe and make comparisons based on color and texture. Ask, “When you look up close, does the stone have just one color, or are there several?” These observations provide some insight into how stone is used both for strength and for design in building, and that not all stone is the same.
Building a structure: After looking at and talking about local structures with your child, find some time and materials to engage him in his own building based on a few of the features you and he observed. It is important that you listen to him describe what he is building. If appropriate, try to tie his structure to what you both saw outdoors.
Big machines: Building large structures requires some amazing machinery. As you pass by construction sites, try to slow down to observe and wonder about the various machines: what they do and how they help the builders. Imagine aloud ”What do you think it would be like if instead of a front-end loader some people dug this big hole with a shovel?”