This week’s Kindly Kara is penned by the leaders of our Instructional Programs, Amy Frydenlund, Lizette Sweiven, and Kara Tupy.

The inquiry process – asking meaningful questions, making discoveries, and testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding – is woven into the fabric of every good science textbook or class. But it’s not limited to these spaces. Do you remember the first time your child witnessed vinegar and baking soda mixing together in a fantastic explosion? In Kara’s household, fascination with this chemical reaction became the theme for her son’s 6th party. They made a lovely mess that year!

When our children first witness something phenomenal, like baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, we have confidence that the phenomena itself is enough to spark curiosity and drive them to ask questions and explore, to want to know more. While it feels a little scarier to trust that this drive exists in our teenagers, it is still there. As our children approach middle and high school, the inquiry process itself can help us tap into that drive.

Continue to spark curiosity in your teens. Have them participate in classes and programs that foster collaboration, problem-solving, and academic growth. Cottonwood Instructional Programs (RISE and CVHS) offer science classes with extraordinary teachers who foster deep learning, critical thinking, and practical applications to real-world problems. Classes with curriculum providers and Community Partners also provide a variety of offerings. For high school students who are self-motivated and hungry for more, concurrent enrollment can further open doors to discovery, and academic advancement.

The San Francisco Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry helps us understand that “the inquiry process is driven by one’s own curiosity, wonder, interest, or passion to understand an observation or to solve a problem.” How beautifully scientific inquiry mirrors the homeschool journey!

Whether your student is interested in engineering, neuroscience, cooking, or welding, encouraging teens to apply the cycle of inquiry to everything they encounter fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills. What better way to inspire than through participation in events like the Cottonwood Science Fair, where innovation and creativity come together? From the 8th-grade Solar Innovations Academy field trip, to hands-on science labs at the CCC, and assorted field trips, opportunities are abundant at Cottonwood.

Cottonwood’s Upcoming Science Events and Opportunities:

  • Friday, March 8th Science Fair: Science Fair Guide – Be inspired to participate or attend
  • Friday, March 15th, 8th Grade Field Trip to Solar Innovations Academy at MOSAC

Additional Resources for 6th – 12th grade students: