A PhD-prepared scientist by day, Jennifer is also the mom and afterschooler of two young, gifted children.
When Young, Gifted Children Love Science
When I began my PhD, I thought I would use it for the typical things: teaching, research, and helping others. That was before I became a mother to two gifted children. While I am still a scientist by day, I am also a mom who is constantly searching for resources and materials to meet my children's learning needs.
My older son's primary interest is space, but learning the typical information—names of planet, galaxies, black holes—is not enough. As a gifted learner, my child wants to learn at a broader and deeper level than what can typically be found in books for children. In this article, I will discuss resources I have found for quantum physics, including books and manipulatives, that have allowed my son to develop a deeper understanding of how the universe works.
My parenting philosophy is that children, especially young children, learn best through play. That is why you will see resources that provide amazing content about very complex topics and supplemental resources that will allow your children to play as they learn.
Where Do You Start With Quantum Physics!?!
Quantum physics is not my area of science, and I was so intimidated when my son wanted to learn more. I spent hours scouring the internet and searching for a book that he could use on his own (and, let's be real, that I could also understand when he needed help.) My 20 hours of research produced exactly one book that I feel is appropriate for the 4–7 age range: My First Book of Quantum Physics.
What I like so much about this particular book is that it covers a wide range of topics that take the child on a scientific journey of discovery. It begins with a basic introduction (1 page, 2 paragraphs) and then goes right to Newton's Laws of Physics. The book can be followed in order, or, because each section is so short, the child can easily skip around to the most interesting topic of the day. I have included a photo of the table of contents above.
Recommended Books and Resources
Recommendation: My First Book of Quantum Physics
I never thought quantum physics would be my bedtime reading, but it is. Beginning around age 5, after learning about many aspects of the universe for the previous year, my son started reading My First Book of Quantum Physics. It became a nice addition to our home library. The book features many smaller segments of text that are less intimidating for young readers. It also includes fully illustrated pages that let the child visualize the science.
Recommendation: Organic Chemistry Model Kit
Young children, even gifted ones, learn best through play. This modeling kit allows the child to visualize the atoms and molecules they will learn about in the book and provides a way for them to physically play while they learn. My son was also ready for this kit around five years old.
In the photos above, you will see why I absolutely love pairing this modeling kit with the book. In fact, I got both of them together for my son for a birthday gift. The book teaches children about atoms and the periodic table, but then it goes further and shows them how molecules are built.
An atom modeling kit is like LEGO chemistry! My son loves to look in the book and create the molecules in it, or we sit down together and look up new molecules he can make. I personally found having the tangible "atoms" and "molecules" helped him understand these abstract concepts very well.
Recommendation: Crash Course Kids (see links below)
While I might be a scientist, I cannot answer every question that comes my way. If you are the parent of a gifted child, you get hundreds of questions a day, and you have no clue how to answer any of them. While I prefer my children learn from play, books, and manipulatives, I do have a few favorite YouTube resources that are appropriate for children. (I have personally pre-screened each of these videos, but, as a parent, please also do your own screening, too!)
The videos I have linked for you here are tied to the topics in the book:
- Newton's Laws of Physics
- Part(icles) of Your World
Both videos are from Crash Course Kids, where you will also be able to find other videos to help you answer those 5 million questions you get asked every day. On the bright side, think of how much you have learned because of your kids. I certainly never thought I would spend my weekend building molecules and having fun.
Homeschooling or Afterschooling?
My son attends a public elementary school, so we use these resources as an afterschooling or fun family weekend activity. I think they would also be great to use in the homeschool setting, especially for early elementary-aged gifted children who need more than what most science curriculum will provide.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on March 05, 2020:
Interesting hub. My grandchildren are home schooled and I think they would find this interesting. The modelling kits would also be useful for older children who may be having difficulty with science. Play is good for everyone.