By: Beth Van Derslice
Lava Lamp! Egg in a Bottle! Easy Volcano Experiment! Floating Drawings! Underwater Fireworks! Make Your Own Bubbles! Sound like projects your preschool and elementary-aged children would enjoy? Ours sure do. To learn more about these and other experiments we reached out to the creator of Raising Dragons, Andrea Scalzo Yi, to learn more about the fun, easy and STEAM-focused experiments that she’s been playing at home with her 4 boys (ranging from 1-8 years-old).
About the Creator: Prior to taking on the roles of stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur, Andrea worked in the NYC fashion industry. She spent many years working with designers and companies including Donna Karan, where she spent over a decade, before recently moving with her husband and children to the New Jersey suburbs near Philly. Lucky for us, despite her career transition and busy schedule with the kids, she spends time each day doing STEAM-focused experiments with her children and sharing the experience through her passion-project, Raising Dragons.
What Is Raising Dragons?: Andrea’s project explores creative ways to engage in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math skills) related projects with her 4 boys. She shares videos and descriptions of her boys doing the projects on her website, www.raisingdragons.com and through social media (links below).
Raising Dragons posts a video of a new activity nearly every day. You can (and should!) peruse the Raising Dragons collection of experiments in any number of ways, including: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
We were happy to spend some time with Andrea and learn more....
What Was Your Inspiration for Creating Raising Dragons?
I want to do projects that are beneficial for the kids, with a focus on STEAM and literacy, in a way that I can handle. I’m really not a ‘craft person,’ so I need to pick things that are relatively easy, with supplies that I can find around the house.
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
I do a lot of online research and keep an eye out for activities that are appropriate for [my childrens’] ages. I look at books, and Pinterest is really important. I try things. I’ve never done so many experiments with the kids in my life. [Often the experiment instructions will contain missteps or first-hand advice for keeping the kids engaged when something didn’t work during an experiment.]
What Motivates You To Keep Generating Ideas?
I really just want to keep them off of TV and their screens. My kids are really drawn to screens. I want to find things around the house – without buying a new toy. I mean, just stacking cups, they love it and it’s so easy. I try to help them think creatively. If they do an activity and they are not really amused by it, then I won’t do it again. For instance, they played with the water beads for an hour after we finished filming so I know that they liked the activity.
What Do the Boys Think of the Project?
The kids love it. They fight with each other sometimes, like, who can be in the video! [Author’s note: It’s clear from the videos that the kids are enjoying these experiments. Here are a few particularly joyful examples.]
I also think they are more into doing stuff at home. They get excited and say, “I want to do an experiment!”
At This Point, Do You Have Any Short and/or Long-Term Goals for Raising Dragons?
I hope that these videos show parents how easy and doable it can be to do STEAM-based activities at home. For me right now, I treat this as work in order to be consistent in doing experiments with the kids and helping them learn. Maybe it can become something bigger, I don’t really know at this point. If nothing else we’ll have lots of videos of the kids doing really cool experiments!
With summer approaching, we highly recommend that you check out some of the cool experiments that Andrea’s kids have been doing. In fact, many of the experiments use the same simple tools and supplies (paint, corn syrup, paper cups, water and/or baking soda are used in many) and can be enjoyed by children ranging from 2 to 8. We’ll be checking in with Andrea and her adorable family again soon. In the meantime, happy playing!
To find new math game picks and experiments, check out these great resources on our Parent Resources page.