Tuesday, July 27, 2010
What's In the Play Dough? A Lesson in Deductive Reasoning
Our boredom buster for the afternoon came from Janice Vancleave's Chemistry for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work, and is actually a lesson in deductive reasoning.
In case you've been wondering what's up with all of the science books I've been referencing, lately - I'm hoping to eventually work through enough of them, with the children, that we can put together a top 10 list of the those we recommend. We still have quite a few books, at our library alone, to work through, so I'm not sure if this book will make the cut, or not, but I can pretty well guarantee, that something by Janice Vancleave will be there.
As to this project, I took a random assortment of the children's toys, and hid them in play dough balls.
I gave the balls to the children, with a notebook, pencil, and some toothpicks. Their instructions were to try to determine what sort of toy was hidden in each ball, by poking into the play dough with the toothpicks.
They were not to squeeze the play dough, or peek into the holes made by the toothpicks.
Then, when they thought they knew what the toy was, they were to draw it in their notebook.
Finally, after they had drawn what they thought was in the dough, we pulled it out for comparison.
This being their first time at the activity, they failed terribly. But, it gave them a good lesson in what scientists have to go through when trying to identify something they cannot see, or hold directly. And, it was a good lesson, as well, in the dangers of listening to the crowd.
When one of them thought there was a dinosaur in the dough, they all decided there was a dinosaur in the dough. Then, after they saw what one of the toys was, they decided all the toys were that same thing. They were going with what they believed, instead of what the evidence presented.
For younger children, I would suggest showing them the toys ahead of time, and then letting them determine which toy is in which glob of dough.
And, of course, you should be prepared for some independent play dough time, once all the objects have been revealed.
It's great to be a homeschooler.