Sunday, March 12, 2017

Think It - Make It - Try It!

Scientists have questions, try to figure out ways to answer the questions, come to conclusions, and record their information. Sounds like every young learner I've ever met!  So, let your kiddos know that they ARE real scientists ... and watch them get to work!

To get started, you can put together an assortment of materials that might be useful - and definitely will be appealing. At first, the children might just want to tinker with each of the materials but, before long, they will start to see possibilities for using them in different ways. The idea is to provide this "makerspace" where they can have a thought and then test it out :) For example ... What would make this ball roll faster? Farther? Hmmm....

PVC pipe, in varied widths and lengths is a great place to start. Your local hardware store may even have it pre-cut into shorter lengths - two feet is a very workable length for little learners. I made sure to include two different width sizes (1 1/2" and 2"), as well as different joints that fit one or the other - or both! My scientists had to figure out which would work together and which wouldn't! It has been the workings of many experiments in velocity, friction, air pressure, etc., all by 3, 4, and 5 year olds.

A standard set of unit blocks, as well as any Duplo or Lego sets are great to have around, too. They can be used in conjunction with each other, as your child sees fit. Simple things like shoelaces, twist ties, and velcro strips make great connectors when building. Ping pong balls, available in colors and 6 to a package, were a big hit from my local dollar store!

Small cars, marbles (depending on the age of your children), and any small, light balls are all terrific tools for testing theories on speed and direction. Make sure that they are within reach and at eye view, so that inspiration hits :)

The idea is to introduce these elements but then STEP AWAY. Let the children formulate questions and try out hypotheses through interaction with this variety of resources.

Ask how, what, and why questions to help steer them, if they are stalled.

Maybe they want to see how to make the cars go faster or farther. How could you make that happen? What could you use?

Maybe they want to roll a ball so it goes farther than before. What would help with that? How can you use it?

Prompting to problem solve is the way to go!

My crew wanted to roll ping pong balls farther and faster - so they built this .... on their own!

See what your little scientists can come up with!

Have fun!

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