Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Can cotton balls turn into snow?

Lately, small groups of students have been exploring various wonders by conducting science experiments. One student's wonder will spark others' curiosity and an experiment will unfold. These are the moments I enjoy 'emergent curriculum' because students are engaged, excited and directing their learning. All the while, exploring various curriculum expectations (literacy, collaboration, science).

“Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, 
once they are helped to discover the pleasure of inquiry, 
their motivation and interest explode.” 
- Loris Malaguzzi

One day A.A came as asked me "will cotton balls turn into snow if we put them in extremely cold water?" So naturally, we set up an experiment! I used this opportunity to explore the scientific process with the group of learners who were interested. We talked about what materials we would need, our hypotheses and recorded our observations.

As we moved through the scientific process, they recorded on their papers.
All three students thought the cotton balls would turn into snow. We then talked about the procedure of our experiment.
I.D- we got containers and got ice
A.A- we got cotton balls, then we put the ice inside
I.D- then we put the water in the ice
A.A- we put the cotton balls in the water
I.L- then we watch what happens

A.R and D.A joined in on the fun!
After we watched what happened. The students noticed that the cotton balls did not turn into snow, but were just wet cotton balls. So, our next step was to put the cotton balls into the freezer over night to see if that would turn them into snow.
Walking to the freezer
Putting it in the freezer with a note so everyone knew it was our experiment
When I brought the cotton balls out of the freezer the next day, the excitement level was at an all time high! 
The cotton balls right after I took them out of the freezer

They made many observations:
I.D- it’s frozen!
Ms. Tompkins- what happened?
A.A- turned to snow!
I.L- no ice
A.A- it’s solid
Ms. Tompkins- what happened to the cotton balls?
I.D- they freeze
I.L- they turn to ice
Ms. Tompkins- what happens when you hold the cotton ball?
I.L- it will melt
A.A- melt!
I.D- your hands are warm
Listen to the excitement!

Writing their observations and findings.
So, we learned that cotton balls do not turn into snow, no matter how wet or cold they get!

After the cotton balls thawed it turned into another wonder...when cotton balls are wet, can they turn into clouds? 

I love children's wonder and theories, and especially the excitement they have when exploring to find answers! Make sure you take time to listen and let children explore for themselves. I could have easily answered the wonder, but none of this amazing learning would have taken place!

The learning experiences children remember are the ones they create.

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