Sunday, February 27, 2011
Matter Matters: Getting Messy with Ordinary Objects
Science is a messy process. In science, children need to be actively involved in their education and learning, and therefore, this entails getting messy occasionally. Meaningful exploration should be taking place in classrooms, and this will sometimes lead to experiments and investigations that make literal messes, spills, and accidents. Water may spill, such as in Ms. Harrison’s class, mixtures may get all over desks, and things may appear in disarray but this is all part of the process. In addition, getting messy in science can show students how science is not a neat, clear process. Often, science experiments do not go as planned, and sometimes for unknown reasons. Science can be a very frustrating and difficult process. The process of classification is not always clear and neat, as well, as it was demonstrated with the “green goo” in Ms. Hager’s classroom. The students could not clearly classify the green goo as a solid or a liquid, and this is because it truly is neither- it is a suspension. To help students make meaning out of a messy experience, teachers should guide the process by posing questions to students along their investigation, demonstrate that getting messy in exploration is a nonthreatening process (they won’t get in trouble for making a mess), and explore and manipulate materials. Teachers should create investigations for students to do that make them engage in hands-on- minds-on activities, collaborate with one another, and cause them to actively be involved in the inquiry process. Classification of objects, living things, and states of matter should be taught through the active participation of students in investigations. Students need to visually see and interact with the differences and commonalities of objects.