Today was a great day for Science. The staff and students at Newmarket Primary School pulled out all the stops and initiated parents and assorted tradesmen to the wonderful Nature of Science.
Gone are the days of passively watching the teacher getting to do all the good stuff. The students are learning about science by doing science. Learning about scientific attitudes and processes works best when you are part of the investigation and can collaborate and share new understandings and knowledge.
Every child present today participated. They revisited previous investigations and reinforced their understandings and generated even more questions. Parents left knowing that plastic bags and paper bags may have similar uses but the polymers in the Ziplocs make them stronger and more durable, especially when wet things need to be stored.
Children introduced their parents into the phenomenon of the bubble. Close observations of single bubbles and foams initiate us into the world of mixtures and the energy in gases. Bubbles levitated raisins and formed on the shells of eggs steeped in vinegar. Bubbles of air were transferred from one container to another and air pressure helped balloons filled with water to enter V8 juice jars.
Sugar undergoes chemical changes when you heat it and if you control how much heat energy you use, you can rustle up some pretty tasty spider webs. Throw away pots, pans and kettles, because under the right experimental conditions you can heat water in paper cups.
Mysterious orbs from Mars made an appearance, booty from a futuristic mission to Mars. Scientific examination and ponderings followed as the capsules were investigated by the research teams. “Curiosity” has landed on Mars, and curiosity guided student/parent interactions in the classrooms.
Eggs are amazing too. Eggceptionally strong and eggactly what a developing chick needs to develop. Mammal milk is also a whole food for developing babies, and simulating digestion by making baby vomit makes a graphic demonstration that will linger in the nose and the memory.
The five year olds demonstrated some hair-raising investigations involving static electricity. Now we know why Einstein always had wild hair. Celery and milk captured the imagination with their psychedelic manifestations. And young entomologists instructed adult listeners about the structure of adult insects while comparing the mature form with the larval. Parents were also advised that a lot of people think spiders are insects. If they knew the basic structure of both then they would realise their mistakes.
And last but not least, some youngsters traded iPhones and androids for tin cans and string. The passage of sound waves through solids, liquids and gases was demonstrated. Kitchen utensils became musical bells, empty bottles produced resonating notes and plastic straws were fashioned into small flutes.
All the fields, physics, chemistry, biology and the planet earth and beyond were accessed through the Nature of Science. Learning triumphed today.