09 December 2005
Stand Back, I Don't Know How Big This Thing's Gonna Get
This is a snapshot from my day. I returned to an area elementary school to work with 5th graders on their inquiry skills.
The teacher would like very much for her kids to be more successful with planning and conducting scientific investigations...which is where I come in. I don't know much about teaching 5th grade, but I'm really okay with the science stuff.
I told the kids that I had a terrible problem. Someone had given me a recipe for making bubble solution so that I could make some for my nieces and nephews for Christmas---but all I had were the ingredients. Could they help me out and do some testing?
Needless to say, I had some very enthusiastic help. Their teacher and I led them through the design process and then took them to the school cafeteria for the testing. Science can be noisy (even if it's a good kind of buzz) and there is no wall between this teacher's classroom and the next room. I had also promised the cafeteria workers that their tables would be really clean when we were done.
Students had three soap solutions to test. There were to blow three bubbles with each solution. When each bubble popped, they used a meter stick to measure the soap ring that marked the diameter of the bubble.
Eventually, we got their straws away from them and headed back to the classroom to take a look at their results. Kids were very excited about the size of the bubbles they were able to create and anxious to share their information.
This really worked as a great introduction to the scientific process. But more importantly, the teacher started to see all the different places she could infuse this sort of thinking. What if they were playing four-square on the playground---and she had them predict what would happen if everybody could only stand on one leg? She had quite the spark of several ideas. Current and future students will really benefit from the expertise she's developing.
I'm going back to work with her class at the end of January. I need another attention-grabber. Oobleck, anyone?