I N - T O U C H S C I E N C E

—Introduction —

Visual I-1Many children learn best when they experience a subject first hand. This young girl’s senses are fully engaged as she observes, touches, smells, and thinks about this dye experiment.

In-Touch Science is a hands-on science program that encourages children in grades 3-5 to learn by doing. It strives to make science relevant to young people through familiar settings and materials.

Visual I-2In-Touch Science also supports adults who want to work with children in grades 3-5 or who want to teach other adults. Workshops, publications, trainer grants, and a website are a few of the resources available to adult facilitators.

In-Touch Science began at Cornell University in 1995, working mostly with 4-H educators in New York. The program reached out to schools and additional informal groups through a National Science Foundation grant (1997-2003). By 2003, the program had trained more than 6,000 adults and reached more than 20,000 children nationwide. The program continues to grow through the efforts of Cornell Cooperative Extension and the many trained educators and volunteers.

Visual I-3The In-Touch Science objectives for children and for the adult/teen facilitators who work with them are:

•To improve understanding of the connection between science concepts and

concrete daily occurrences.

•To encourage community and family involvement and commitment to

science education.

•To instill a positive attitude about science.

•To enhance understanding and use of the process of inquiry.

•To increase knowledge of disciplines included in this curriculum.

Visual I-4In-Touch Science has four published units — all have been approved by the National 4-H Curriculum Jury. Each unit pairs two fields of study:

•Fibers & Animals

•Chemistry & Environment

•Foods & Fabrics

•Plants & Engineering

Visual I-5Each In-Touch Science unit contains five sessions. Each session has two activities. In the Fibers & Animals unit, you will find five activities about textile fibers and five activities about animals.

Visual I-6All publications have the same format. The first section discusses proven ways of teaching the program and engaging children. It gives general information about supplies and explains the evaluation.

The middle section provides instructions for doing the activities.

The last section focuses on management including information for building kits, ordering supplies, a glossary, and references.

Visual I-7Each session focuses on a single science concept. Yet, it contains two activities — one activity in one area of study and a second activity in a different discipline. In this example, children will explore the idea of microstructures, structures so small that they can not be seen without a magnifier. First, children will do Fuzzy Fibers, learning about the small scales on wool that allow wool to change into felt. Second, the children do Fantastic Feathers, learning how small barbules help birds fly. Children discover that the same science concept can be observed in Animal Science and Fiber Science.

Visual I-8These activities and materials were pilot tested with several hundred children at 35 sites. Feedback from these adults and children was invaluable in shaping the final product. That feedback continues as adults submit evaluation forms and contribute Helpful Hints to our website.

Visual I-9Today you will try your hand at doing and leading In-Touch Science. We hope that you — and the children you teach — will ask lots of questions, learn science skills, share what you learn with others, and enjoy this program as much as these girls did.