Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Focus : Everyday Science, Part 2

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An important part of discovery is making predictions. Children use what they already know to make guesses, then they test those guesses, and finally, they gain a new understanding based on the outcome of their test. This process is not limited to typically scientific experiments. Children make predictions when they try new foods, learn new words, and play with their friends.

Because children love playing in water anyway, a simple sink and float activity is ideal for teaching and recording the prediction process. Collect many items around your house: small toys, coins, a sponge, different types of balls, etc. Together with your child, create a simple chart to record the results of the experiment. Then, ask your child to predict whether each item will sink or float in a small tub of water. After he tests his prediction and records the answer, try the same test in a larger container of water. What things still sink or float? What things have a changed result?

For older children, you can discuss the two main factors that influence sinking or floating: density and buoyancy. Here is a great explanation of buoyancy. Here is a basic definition of density.

Children's literature about sinking and floating:
  • Floating and Sinking by Franklyn M. Branley
  • Keep it Afloat! By Julian Rowe and Molly Perham
  • Mike Swan, Sink or Swim by Deborah Heilgman
  • Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • The Magic School Bus: Ups and Downs by Jane Mason, Bruce Degen, and Joanna Cole
  • Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky
  • Mr. Archimedes’ Bath
  • Will It Float? by Pamela Allen

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