RAR #177: Teach Your Kids to Think Like a Scientist (with Books You Already Have)


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Science is everywhere. It’s in everything we do, everything we see. And yes, everything we read.

Books offer a delightful opportunity to talk about science, both through their illustrations and their text. We just need to know a few things to look for and a few questions to ask.

Today we’ll find out how to think like a scientist, and how to teach our kids to do the same.

I invited two professors from St. Michael’s College to teach us all about cross-cutting scientific concepts within picture books.

Dr. Valerie Bang-Jensen is the Department Chair and Professor of Education at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. She’s an expert in children’s literature and literacy. Dr. Mark Lubkowitz is a molecular biologist and the Chair and Professor of Biology at St. Michael’s.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • What it means to “think like a scientist”
  • How to find scientific concepts in every book you read
  • How to use cross-cutting concepts to teach young scientists of all ages



“They can’t get all of science from a book, but they can launch these ideas into every part of their life. Books are a perfect place to do that, because books are a microcosm of life.”

Dr. Valerie Bang-Jensen

“The secret is: scientists aren’t smarter than everybody else. Scientists just have a way to classify and sort human thinking and behavior.”

Dr. Mark Lubkowitz

3:01 What’s a cross-cutting concept?
4:55 Introducing Mark and Valerie
6:59 The secret about science
7:48 How it all began
12:34 The delight of patterns
14:27 Finding cross-cutting concepts in Owl Moon
20:21 Scale and time in story
24:02 Applying scientific concepts to books off your shelf
27:19 Structure and function
29:30 Learning through questions
31:43 Let the Kids Speak


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