Thursday, October 6, 2011

Boat Building

Today's science activity was a bit of a cop-out. Granted, it's something I really used in my High School classes. It just didn't have any grandiose 3rd grade worthy explanation. Mostly we just played.

The challenge today is to build a boat. Not just any boat, but one made of only paper and staples that can hold as many Littlest Pet Shop critters as possible. 

Once the boat sinks, we re-evaluate and try to make the next one better. The only real problem with this approach is that evidently the Littlest Pet Shop critters float. I didn't see that one coming.

As a mom I explain it like this: Why did your first boat sink? How could you make your boat better? And then I gave her more paper and let her have at it.

As a teacher I explain it like this: When you decided how to build your first boat, you made a hypothesis about what would work. Now that you've seen how your boat did you know if your hypothesis was right or if you could make it better. Every time you have an idea, try it out, and modify it you are using the scientific method. What we call the scientific method the rest of the world calls problem solving. Coming up with an idea is the hypothesis, seeing if it works is the testing, seeing the results of your test and changing your hypothesis is the very nature of science. If you were sure that you had designed the perfect boat and could never prove it wrong that hypothesis might become a theory. A theory is nothing more than a hypothesis that has been tested a whole lot and hasn't been able to be proven wrong. Now, are you sure you made the best boat possible?

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