For many years politicians have called for education reform. In each case the importance of sound science education in the primary grades has been highlighted. This reform is crucial if students are to develop the problem-solving skills they need to understand and participate in a world that is growing exponentially in scientific and technological skills and awareness.
Though many elementary teachers are often uncomfortable teaching science, the good news is that elementary students are naturally inquisitive. This fact makes them prime candidates for scientific exploration.
The best way to introduce elementary school students to the world of science is to involve them in hands-on experiments and investigation through the inquiry process. In other words, provide them with numerous opportunities to experience science in action. And of course, that means engaging them with plenty of easy science experiments.
Here are two easy science experiments elementary students will love.
This science classroom favorite experiment is an excellent way to demonstrate chemical reactions. Students of all ages love this!
Clay or Play Dough
2 L soda bottle
Children will make a volcano model using the soda bottle as a base and the clay to shape a volcano around the bottle. It’s important that the opening of the bottle remains clear and that clau doesn’t get into the bottle.
When the model has been created, the first step is to fill the bottle with 1 liter of warm water through the opening of the volcano. Use the funnel to pour the water into the bottle. The next step is to put it a couple of drops of red food coloring into the water. Make sure students are wearing their safety goggles.
Now it’s time to see a chemical reaction in progress. Have students add a few drops of the dishwashing soap detergent into the volcano. Next comes 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Finally, have students pour the vinegar into the bottle. Suddenly, the volcano erupts and the lava flows!
Once all the excitement has died down explain what actually happened. A chemical reaction occurred when the baking soda and vinegar mixed. The result was the creation of carbon dioxide. The pressure from the carbon dioxide build-up forced the soapy water to erupt from the volcano. The same principle applies to actual volcanic eruptions when carbon dioxide gas forces lava flow.
What’s the beverage of choice for grass seed?
Most students know that plants need water to grow but what would happen if you “watered” the seeds of with a liquid other than water?
Four small pots or containers
Compost “Tea” (water in which organic matter has steeped)
Fill the containers with potting soil and sprinkle the grass seeds on top. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil. Mark the containers with the name of the liquid you’ll be testing. Put the pots in a sunny location and then using equal amounts, water them with the different liquids. Make sure you record any growth or changes in the plants each day.
These two simple experiments are fun and engaging, but most importantly, involve students in investigation and the inquiry process. By implementing science experiments such as these in the daily curriculum, critical scientific thinking and processing skills are nurtured.