Demonstrations – Step by Step

Demonstrations are very important to understanding concepts of science.

(Just a small note:  people get confused about the definition of an experiment.  Demonstrations are typically used to illustration concepts of science and are not repeated multiple times as a true experiment would be.  Experiments allow children to pose their own “I wonder?” questions.  This allows the child to control variables like materials, time, heat, lighting etc.  It must be repeated a minimum of three times with each variable. OK got that off my chest. Moving on.)

If the guide doesn’t carefully think through the demonstration, the concepts may not be communicated.

One question they pose had to do with the end of the balloon. How tight did the balloon need to be? What about the little bubble at the end? No guidance was provided by the book.

The kids are trying a demonstration found in a “regular” school text book.  I have not interfered in the process, but allowed them to read and follow the directions themselves.

They are making a barometer out of  glass jars from our used glass basket, balloons, rubber bands, straws, tape, and a ruler. It was kind of a lark to make and the kids didn’t want more than a cursory understanding provided by the book, so I’ve not stepped in.  Because the book glosses over the differences between the barometer the kids are making and a “real” barometer, they can’t possibly see that their barometers aren’t going to function well.

How can someone ensure that scientific concepts are communicated.

Step 1:  READ and watch some videos.  You as the guide must understand the concepts.  Think through the concepts and discover the best demonstration of the core concept.

Step 2:  PRACTICE. So much of Montessori Elementary science training is PRACTICE.

Step 3:  THINK.  While you are practicing, think through the steps carefully so that the demonstration cards you create provide details like how long, Socratic question to help the child realize where their way might divert from the goal, and real science explanations of what is happening.

Step 4: DEMONSTRATE.

Step 5: OFFER THE WORK TO THE CHILD.  The demonstration card you create and the materials needed now should be made available for the child to do on his own.

Unfortunately,  not all instructions follow these steps. I’m sad that they won’t be inspired to learn more because of poor planning and explanation.  I hope to be able to have a discussion about the things we could do differently to facilitate more accurate results in the future and more importantly, the science behind the what – the why.

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Filed under Educational Philosophy, MMcC, Montessori, Physics, Science

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