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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Learning About the Computer

I love my smart phone. I really love it. I can take pictures, spy on my friends on social media websites, play word games, look for recipes, update my calendar and even answer phone calls. It keeps me company during some of my most boring times of the day like basketball practice or watching the boys at the park. I turn to my phone for help in for those tricky moments in the post office or doctor’s waiting room when the boys need something to keep them quiet. Is it a crutch? Perhaps. Will I ever give it up? Never ever.
But I certainly don’t want my kids to know that! And as Sid the Science Kid shows us this week, the little eyes are always watching and the little ears are always listening. It’s no secret that our children learn from the behavior we model. Sid made this point in a comical way in the latest episode about computers. He giggles as his parents respond to every alert on their computer, interrupting conversation to check email with every “ding!” Sid even says something like, “The computer makes my parents do stuff.” Talk about perspective! The episode goes on to teach about the computer as a tool for science. Sid and his friends learn that scientists use technology to share information and research new ideas.
It really made me think about the ways I use technology in my life. I certainly use the computer as a tool for writing, research, banking, travel, shopping, and scheduling. But that isn’t the way my kids see me using technology. I work when they are at school or asleep. Henry and Leo see me talking on the phone, playing games, interacting socially, taking photos, and basically “playing.” I realize that I need to purposefully take time to teach the boys about using technology as a tool.
And the kids on Sid the Science Kid did an activity on the show that does just that. The kids complete a simple science activity, journal about it, take a picture of the journal, download the picture onto the computer, and then email the picture to a parent.
I enlisted Dad’s help with the activity. While I went out shopping, they took a nature walk on the cul-de-sac looking for evidence of nature in the winter. Apparently, the whole neighborhood got involved, as the boys wandered around. Our neighbors offered information about trees, squirrels, and the weather. Gerry recorded their findings on a list as they explored. They had a great time.
When I got home, I asked to see the list. Then I invited the boys into my office to talk about the computer. I wanted them to make the connection between the information they gathered and the computer as a way to share that information. I asked them how they could share the list with Dad. Henry wisely stated that since Dad wrote the list then he probably didn’t need to see it again. I explained that Dad often forgets things and that he needed a copy of the list. So we took a picture.
Then came the process of downloading the picture onto the computer. I let them connect the wires and press the keys. And then we waited. And waited. It felt like the days of dial up. The boys got antsy so I quizzed them on the parts of the computer. Henry knew the names for mouse, keyboard, and screen, but Leo didn’t. Leo liked “mouse” because “it moves fast and quick.”
When the photo was uploaded we talked about email as a letter we send over the computer. We worked together to compose an email to Dad and press the correct buttons to send the information. Here is the email:
I know that Gerry will be tickled to receive the email and the picture. I am glad that the boys know they can use the computer to communicate. There is a more to do than play Angry Birds with a computer!
For now, I know that I won’t cut back too much on my smart phone usage. But I do think I can be smarter about what I model for my kids and when I choose to use the technology.
Do you limit your smart phone usage when the kids are around? How much do you children know about technology?

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