Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We Blinded Ourselves with Science

I'm sort of a science-phobe. The fact I referenced Thomas Dolby in my title rather than, say, Newton or Mendel, should have been a clue. It was always a vicious cycle of me not liking it, therefore not trying, therefore not getting good grades and therefore, further not liking.

I want it to be different for my kids. I don't want them predisposed to my academic weaknesses. (They're already victims of my fashion weaknesses and tone-deafness.) So, I try to do science with my kids. When I remember, anyway.

The bulk of my do-it-yourself science instruction is inspired by a book I found in the 25-cent bin at the library called Kitchen Science. Our most recent experiment involved the relationship between salt and ice. Apparently, they don't get along very well.

Since I didn't have the ice cube the experiment called for, I modified it a tad. I gave the kids cupfuls of icy snow and shakers of salt. I figured the salt would melt the ice. But when those results didn't come as quickly as I expected, my science phobia welled back up and I panicked. I brought out the faux rock salt we use on our sidewalks. (It says "safe for pets," so I figured safe for kids. Right?) That melted the ice somewhat, but I felt like we needed a bigger bang. So, I gave them each a spoonful of ice and a capful of the ice melter and smiled when the ice was obliterated in seconds.

I then got all teachery and made them follow the scientific method for the second part of our experiment: seeing which freezes faster, regular water or salt water. Since my children are geniuses, their hypotheses were dead on. Unfortunately, knowing they were right was not satisfying enough and they insisted on tasting their experiment, which proved rather unpleasant with regards to the slower freezing cup of water. Also, it made me question my own "my children are geniuses" hypothesis.

And for the record, the table salt did melt the ice. It just took a little longer.

No comments:

Post a Comment