Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Think Like a Scientist: Explore an Unknown Material

An Invitation to Explore

An Invitation to Explore an Unknown Material
I really want to teach my daughter think like a scientist. It means that I want her to be able to ask questions, formulate a hypothesis and test it with experimentation. I am trying to challenge her with science that doesn’t come from a book with neatly organized steps. She is well familiar with a traditional soda+vinegar experiment and its variations, but I was curious to see whether she will be able to apply the knowledge from these classic experiments to a new setting. Before I picked her up from her afterschool program, I set up a table with a small box of baking soda, a dropper, a test tube, a plate, and a couple of pages to record her observations.
Testing Different Liquids
When Smarty came home, I told her the following story, Imagine that you are a scientist, and you have this substance in front of you. Use your senses and ask me for whatever else you might need to discover properties of this substance. Remember – this substance is precious, and once it’s gone, you cannot get more. Also remember – scientists don’t taste things.

A Discovery Process for Kids

Writing Down Your Observations
The first thing that my six year old Smarty asked for was a special paper to test if this stuff is acidic or the other one that is opposite of acidic. After I recovered from this surprise, I explained to her that pH paper works on liquids, not on solids. This set her on the right track of dissolving her substance in different liquids and seeing the results. After seeing her substance react with pomegranate juice, she was ready to announce what it is – baking soda or baking powder.

Science + Writing = Memorable Experience

Formulating a Hypothesis
Smarty absolutely loved this activity and is hoping that we can do it every week. I enjoyed seeing how her mind works and how much she knows already about chemistry and reactions (thank you, Mad Science!). Eventually we took out some pH paper that came in one of her Mad Science home kits and tried it on vinegar, pomegranate juice, milk and baking soda solution. We learned that vinegar is a little more acidic than pomegranate juice, and that soda is a mild base. Smarty was amazed when I told her that strong acids and bases can burn through fabric and even through human flesh. I am sure a chemistry set is somewhere in our not-so-distant future.

More Activities for Future Scientists

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Your Turn:

Did you try to introduce something new to your children and let him or her discover on their own what it was?

 

14 comments:

John said...

This is such a wonderful experiment. And what a learning opportunity for your daughter (who I might add, certainly is a smarty!) I love science and have done a few neat ones with all of my wee ones (11 years, 3 years, and 1) That is the beauty of Science - intriguing and enriching for all ages!! Here is one of my 11 year old's favourites: http://www.HowWeeLearn.com/science-experiments-for-kids/
Thank you for the inspiration!
Sarah

crayonboxchronicles said...

Hi Natalie. Great experiment. I love the process and journaling. Thanks for sharing today. Pinned and tweeted.

Heather
Crayon Box Chronicles

Mum of One said...

What a great experiment and love that she wrote down all her observations. Many thanks for sharing with The MOnday Parenting Pin It Party.

MommyWise said...

LOVE this idea... very Reggio Emilio... by making an "invitation" to explore!

Anna said...

She definitely is a smarty pants! I need to brush up on my science knowledge before I try something like this - great idea!

Erica MomandKiddo said...

This is great! We really need to do more stuff like this again.

Ticia said...

Now I'm trying to remember, I think there's a similar experiment you could try with corn starch, when it's exposed to iodine it turns green.

Deceptively Educational said...

This is so great! I love how self-guided it was, that you let her control her experiment, simply guiding her when necessary.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

What a fantastic science experiment! I love seeing how Smarty's mind works

Science Sparks said...

What a great activity, I love how smarty led the way.

Thanks so much for joining our challenge.

Trisha @ Inspiration Laboratories said...

Such a great experiment. Asking a question and letting her explore on her own is wonderful.

Thanks for joining our science challenge!

Lauren from said...

What a great experiment. I love that she got to explore on her own. Thank you for sharing at our Pinning for Play link party!

Carrie said...

What a great experiment! I'm impressed with how much she did on her own. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

The girl who painted trees said...

I need to do this kind of discovery learning with my kids. This is how I want science learning to be in our homeschool, but it just hasn't panned out. Thanks for reminding me how easy it can be.