BATAVIA, Illinois—When children go to the zoo, or to a museum, or watch a Space Shuttle launch, they want to talk about their experience, and they’re excited about describing what they’ve seen. Science literacy is a critical skill in a world of constantly accelerating technology, and the Department of Energy’s Fermilab Education Office is marking Illinois State Library Family Reading Day with a science-based Family Literacy Experience for Grades K-8 on Thursday, November 17, 2005.
The program will be held in the Leon Lederman Science Education Center, with grade-appropriate sessions running from 3:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Parents will join their children in using hands-on, exemplary science program materials that integrate reading skills and encourage reading. Sessions will be led by local educators in the areas of both science and literacy.
Susan Dahl, manager of teacher resources in the Fermilab Education Office and coordinator for the literacy event, observes that the focus of science instruction at the preschool and elementary levels is on organizing and classifying aspects of nature—the same skills used in organizing and classifying as children learn words in reading and language instruction. At the middle school level, science instruction is focused on analyzing and comparing aspects of nature—just as reading and language instruction is focused on analyzing and comparing ideas.
“Research tells us that we need a context to read effectively, or our brains will discard the words we are reading,” says Dahl. “We want to broaden the idea of literacy. These hands-on science activities, what we call ‘inquiry science,’ will reinforce what children are reading. Parents often ask, ‘How can I help my child learn?’ Here we are offering strategies that can provide substantial help at home. Children will be reading to learn, instead of learning to read.”
The session for Grade PreK is 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.; for Grades K-1, and Grades 2-3, 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.; for Grades 4-5, and Grades 6-8, 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. There will be some cool raffle items for each grade level, and some for parents too. If your family has children in several grades, come to more than one session. Snacks will be available between sessions.
The fee for the Family Literacy Experience is $12 per child with adult companion. To register, first go to www-ed.fnal.gov; then choose “Science Adventures,” and then click on “Family Literacy Experience.”
Fermilab is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory, operated under contract by Universities Research Association Inc.