We learned first-hand how salt can melt ice because it lowers the freezing point of the water. To continue our exploration of different properties, (see our previous post, How can a little thing like salt be so strong?) one day we experimented with salt, ice, and butter. We gave the children sticks of butter and salt to allow them to test and see if the butter would melt because of the salt.
Some observations the children said were, “butter is strong from ice and salt and can never melt,” and, “salt is hot.”
Other things the children listed as hot:
When the children said that salt was hot we brought in butter. We added a few cubes of ice on one stick of butter and lots of salt on another stick of butter. While we waited the children came up with their own hypothesis.
HYPOTHESIS 1: SALT IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO MELT BUTTER. BUTTER IS STRONGER.
HYPOTHESIS 2: THE BUTTER WILL MELT THE HOT. BUTTER IS NOT GOING TO GET COLD.
HYPOTHESIS 3: BUTTER IS STRONG FROM ICE AND SALT AND CAN NEVER MELT.
As the children waited to see what would happen we drew an image of our hypothesis and sounded out the words, BUTTER, SALT, and ICE.
The children observed that the stick of butter did not melt from the salt or ice at all. The ice ended up melting and turning into water and the salt just sat on top of the ice as it first did when we began the experiment. One of the students asked to take a different approach and switch the order of how each thing was applied on top. Another child said to first put salt on top of the butter and then a cube of ice on top. In the end the children saw that salt could not melt butter and said, “Butter is strong from ice and salt and never melt from it.”
According to the International Journal of Science Education, “Science education is a process of conceptual change in which children reorganize their existing knowledge in order to understand concepts and processes.” In this provocation we expanded on our existing knowledge that salt melts ice by adding a new material in our scientific investigation. Through the process of scientific method the children created various concepts (hypotheses) about salt, ice, and butter. By creating hypotheses and then exploring these ideas the teachers and children were able to define their observations with meaningful conversations. Having the children draw an image of their hypothesis and then sound out the words, butter, salt, and ice was an essential exercise for their cognitive development and served as an additional tool for the teachers to observe and evaluate the children’s understanding of the provocation.
Introducing terms relevant to the experiment provided context for the children, making it more likely that the children will retain this information and apply it to other learning discoveries in the future. Social interaction played an important role for the children’s social and intellectual development as well. Having the children together creating and drawing their hypotheses and experimenting together gave them purpose to work together to reach a goal. Providing this sense of purpose and thirst for knowledge encouraged the students to be focused and help each other problem solve and even create a different strategy to explore their hypotheses with the salt and butter.
Stay tuned as we continue to explore different properties with various materials in the upcoming weeks!
Source: Southern Early Childhood