Tuesday, July 21, 2015

We all try to teach “science facts” to our kids, but true scientists question the “facts” and try to find and explain “outliers”. Very often major scientific breakthrough happen during this chase for outliers. This is why we focused on “state of matter” outliers while discussing the common rules of matter – matter expands with increased temperature and contracts when temperature falls.
Why is it important to question "science facts"

Bring Your Kids’ Attention to Unusual Behaviors

A lot of our “science” doesn’t happen at any sort of desk, but evolves from conversations during our walks to the park or around the block. On one of our walks I asked Smarty if she can think of a substance that expands when cooled. That was relatively easy, since we did experiments with floating ice more than once. Then I asked her if she can name a substance that would contract when heated, and she was stumped.  I told her that I would show her one when we come home and pulled out a Shrinky Dinks set from a Dollar store.

Why Do Shrinky Dinks Shrink?

Shrinky dinks
The science behind Shrinky Dinks is relatively simple, and my 8 year old could grasp it easily. Shrinky Dinks are made out of polystyrene which is a polymer. Polystyrene is not in its natural state when it’s heated, rolled out under pressure into thin sheets and then presented to us as a plastic container or a Shrinky Dinks kit. Molecular chains within polystyrene want to “clump” together and heating up a thin sheet of plastic allows them to return to their more natural state. By the way, my daughter insisted that cooked Shrinky Dinks are heavier, so we had a chance to talk a bit about mass conservation as well, but we didn’t weigh them before and after to prove the point. I suppose though they could technically be heavier if there is air trapped inside thicker Shrinky Dinks shapes.

Why Does Water Expand When It Freezes?

This is actually a more difficult for younger children to comprehend, but we watched this short video that explained the reason behind this behavior (hydrogen bonds) quite well. And to reinforce the lesson, we made “an ice pencil” by freezing water in a small plastic bottle. We did it several times before, but it still looks like magic when ice starts to peek out of the bottle.

Your Turn

Teach children to question science facts with a couple of quick and easy experiments

Do you teach kids to question facts? How?

More Science for Kids?

Follow my Science Pinterest board or check out these States of Matter experiments.
Follow Natalie Planet Smarty Pants's board States of Matter on Pinterest.

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Ticia said...

We do a like of thinking about the "why" behind something.

JL said...

I really like the way you teach science. Do you think you can do more series like this?

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

My scientist husband is obsessed with questioning everything :)

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

We don't have any problem with the questions - with teens in the house, everything pretty much gets questioned naturally. Our problem is that we can get so caught up in the questions that we miss the obvious answers right in front of us - all those pesky little facts and laws of nature :)

Elissa Jones said...

I love when a simple experiment leads to questions that create new learning opportunities for learners...what a great example of that!

Deborah Nielson said...

What a great way to help children develop critical thinking and observation skills! Great topics and activities!