How to Study Science at Home November 18 2011

Throughout history, amazing scientific discoveries have been made by those without formal training or scientific education. Michael Faraday's discoveries led to modern electrics, Gregor Mendel is considered the father of genetics, and Thomas Edison was a renowned inventor. And yet these famous scientists all learned most of their science themselves, from books and their own experiments. The pursuit of scientific knowledge and an understanding of our world is valuable in and of itself, and you can gain many insights into the sciences without the need for a classroom or a formal teacher.

1) Make Use Of The Internet
If Edison, Faraday or Mendel had had access to the internet, who knows how many more amazing discoveries they would have made? Websites such as Wikipedia can give you an overview of many scientific concepts as well as providing you with links and resources for a more in-depth explanation. You can also access lectures from renowned educational institutions such as MIT and Yale.

2) Seek Out Educational Resources
Libraries are well-stocked with books on science, from pop-science narratives to technical manuals. Any librarian will be happy to help you find books to suit your current level of understanding. You can also look for government and educational resources for school students that are available online and in shops. These resources often break down concepts in an easy to digest fashion, as well as giving ideas for experiments.

3) Conduct Your Own Experiments
While books and videos can give you an excellent grounding in scientific theory, there is no substitute for hands-on practical experience of science in the real world. This does not require an expensive or elaborate laboratory - Mendel made his discoveries simply by growing peas. You can experiment with biology in your garden and discover the world of chemistry with kits that are easily available. You simply need to learn about the scientific method and you can easily design and run your own scientific experiments.

4) Explore the World Around You
Science is not the preserve of university laboratories and company research buildings - science is all around you. A simple telescope can open your eyes to the wonders of astronomy. Every day the majesty of the natural world is played out in the growth of plants, and even baking a cake is a complex series of chemical reactions. By opening your mind to the presence of science in your daily life you will begin to question the scientific principles that underlie every moment of your day. These questions will drive you towards experiments, investigations and research that will give you the knowledge that you need to understand science and its amazing impact.

While many people have memories of science lessons in school passing completely over their head, you journey of scientific discovery does not have to be that way. Learning science at home is an accessible and engaging activity, that allows you to proceed at your own pace, focusing only on those concepts and ideas that interest you.

Rachel is a freelance science blogger with a background working on science parks and an interest in making science more accessible.