What Makes a Good Science Experiment?When my daughter was younger, I was focusing on introducing her to two things. One was a joy of randomly combining materials and learning to mix, measure (a little!) and observe the results of her experiments. Classic food coloring or baking soda and vinegar experiments fit in that category. At the same time I also wanted her to learn that some experiments require following directions – this is where science kits are helpful, because they usually come with step by step instructions on how to obtain the desired results.
Developing Scientific Thinking
Now, in the second grade, I really want Smarty to think when we do experiments at home. This is why I am trying to set up experiments that don’t come with clear steps or include all the necessary ingredients in the beginning. Our first experiment of this nature was a Mystery Substance – a twist on a good old baking-soda-and-vinegar experiment. I am now sharing our second experiment of this nature. This time I gave her a plastic glass with two different materials. She immediately identified one from looking at it as sugar, but was stumped as to what the other was. She was even more stumped at the challenge to separate these two materials.
Teaching Kids to Take Notes During Experiments
Taking notes while doing experiments helps young scientists to slow down a little and engage their brains before letting their hands run further. I asked Smarty to wrote down properties of sugar, and the first thing that she wrote down was, “dissolves in water”. That’s where her mental bulb went off on how she could go about separating two materials. We then discussed on whether to use warm water or cold water and how much water she thinks will be needed to dissolve 3 tea spoons of mixture.
Describe What You See and Draw Conclusions
Daughter was very surprised to see our “mystery substance” to change size when put in water. She was delighted to be able to identify them a little later as water beads that she has seen and played with before. It was interesting to take our water beads out, examine them under a strong magnifying glass and describe them on paper (glowing, bumpy, slippery, cool). Smarty predicted (correctly) that water beads will grow even bigger and will take in all water in the glass jar.
Act Like a Scientist – “What If…”
This is a stretch at this age, but I am also trying to get my daughter to change one element of an experiment to predict what happens and observe an outcome. After we had identified a “mystery substance” as water beads, I asked Smarty what she thinks will happen if we put water beads in vinegar instead of water. She predicted that they will fizzle like soda does. I predicted that they will fall apart and turn vinegar green. We were both wrong. Beads didn’t disintegrate, but they grew much slower than in water and stopped growing altogether at some point.
More Activities For Future Scientists
- Think Like a Scientist: Explore an Unknown Material
- Science Experiments and Science Books for K-3.
- Phyllis at All Things Beautiful just took over Science Sunday link up from Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom. These homeschool Moms rock at hands on science.
- Consider following my Science Pinterest Board