“Young children are naturally curious and passionate about learning. In their pursuit of knowledge, they’re prone to poking, pulling, tasting, pounding, shaking, and experimenting. “From birth, children want to learn and they naturally seek out problems to solve’”
–Ruth Wilson, Ph.D
We set up a provocation where children were provided with corn starch, water, red glitter, and red food coloring. Our intention was to create a type of silly putty, but we wanted to see what they would make of the materials.
The children observed the materials and created a hypothesis of what they believed the ingredients could make. We observed them feel each material, understanding the texture, consistency, and gain a better understanding of the color… and then they began conducting experiments. They poured each ingredient, mixed the concoction, and felt the outcome. After they finished testing their hypothesis, they told us that it looked just like strawberry milk!
According to Early Childhood News, while it is appropriate to introduce older students to science history and expect them to learn facts discovered by others, young children should learn science (and all other areas of study) through active involvement – that is, through first-hand, investigative experiences. Young children should be involved in “sciencing” versus the learning of scientific facts presented by others. Sciencing is a verb and suggests active involvement. Such involvement should be both hands-on and minds-on in nature. Thus, children should be engaged both physically and mentally in investigating and manipulating elements in their environment.
This particular activity encouraged children to explore the concepts of measuring, counting, and reasoning while using the fundamentals of sensory play. The goal with this activity is to not tell the children what to do, how to do it, and what directions to follow. We wanted the children to create and construct their own ideas, hypothesis, and experiments. Our goal as teachers in this activity was to observe, ask questions, and encouraging them to further their understanding of the experience.
“A far more important objective is to help children realize that answers about the world can be discovered through their own investigations. Sciencing, for example, involves coming up with ideas of one’s own. Developing these ideas and submitting them to someone else’s scrutiny is, according to Duckworth, “a virtue in itself—unrelated to the rightness of the idea.” – Ruth Wilson, Ph.D