Thursday, November 16, 2006
Science With Mr. Smith!
Warren came to teach the kids science a few weeks ago. It may or may not have started by me begging him to bring dry ice to the classroom, after remembering his "bubbling cauldron" made of water, dry ice, and 5 gallon buckets last Halloween. Or it may be thanks to his firm belief that kids need science experiments. Either way, we reaped the benefits at Mr. Smith's Science Time.
States of Matter is one of the science topics that is supposed to be covered in the third grade curriculum. It's often not, thanks to the standardized tests that have caused many schools to stick to teaching only the subjects that will be assessed at the end of the year. It's a shame, because children need motivation to learn, not just endless sound/spelling correspondences. For many children (and possibly adults??), there's something about the hands-on drive to satisfy curiosity that makes science different and special and might actually cause them to buy into school.
Anyway. We were fortunate enough to have our friend Mr. Smith come to teach states of matter.
Warren brought a camping stove, a big pot, a glass bottle, dry ice, some candles, a jar, balloons, baking soda, and vinegar. This is when the kids KNEW that science was going to be fun. He explained the difference in molecular activity of solids, liquids, and gases - using kids as examples of molecules moving at different speeds.
He showed the kids that air is actually a substance by making carbon dioxide gas with baking soda and vinegar in a jar. As the students watched, the - invisible to them - gas put out the candle flames. It was like magic!
There were all sorts of other experiments and demonstrations, including blowing up a balloon with the carbon dioxide gas from the vinegar and baking soda reaction, creating a vacuum inside a plastic soda bottle, and others that I'm not remembering because I'm not looking at the wonderful write-ups the kids did. I will include those at some point because they show the excitement that was imparted to the kids.
But the best part, of course, was the dry ice! He explained a little bit about what dry ice was but mostly just showed the kids how to play with it. We saw the dry ice in a pot with hot water, and as it was a few days before Halloween, the kids called it "the witches' brew." They came up and ran their hands through the fog that was created. Then Warren added dish soap and a "bubble fountain" erupted!
See - science is FUN!