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Science isn't something to "know about" (like cars), it's a method of knowing & understanding....well....everything.  It is the best tool we've got, and it is open to any & all observable phenomena. 

Star Stuff - I love this definition/description of science.  I even looked at Webster's and Wikipedia, and you exceeded the clarity of the go-to sources. 

I'm sorry to go off topic, but I found myself thinking about this today, and concluding that the problem that we have in the US with science education is that, for the most part, this is NOT what is taught.  It is not what I was taught. 

But my daughter is in a really fabulous school, and I *think* this is what she is being taught. 

I kind of yawned at the beginning of the year when I found out that the first science topic in first grade was the 5 senses.  That seemed like a pre-school topic to me. 

But then they used that first topic to build on everything else they did.  The next topic was solids, liquids, gases.

In the late fall, they had a science curriculum night in her first grade classroom.  Parents and kids came in together, and the kids got to show the parents what they were learning.  The night before curriculum night, my daughter announced that we were going to have root beer floats in class for curriculum night.  6 year olds often misunderstand, and I tried to explain to her that we were not going to have root beer floats during our curriculum night activity. 

But I was wrong.

Each kid got a scoop of ice cream, and while it was being scooped, discussed whether it was a solid or a liquid.  They were asked to speculate what they thought would happen when the root beer was added to the ice cream.  Then the root beer when it.  Liquid.  It turned some of the ice cream liquid, but some remained solid.  The carbonation caused bubbles, and the students really experienced the concept of "gas."   

The students then had to write down what they observed.  What was sold, gas, liquid?   What did they see?  Hear?  Smell?  Taste?  Feel?  The teachers wandered from table to table, looking at what the 6 year olds were writing down.  She then asked them to share their observations with their classmates as they enjoyed consuming their root beer floats.  What changed?  When did it change?  Why did it change? 

And the 6 year olds got into a lively debate about the ice cream itself.  It was a solid at first, they all agreed.  Then some of it, (sometimes all of it) became liquid.  What are the characteristics of a solid?  Of a liquid?  The kids stirred their floats with long spoons and straws, and examined the ice cream and genuinely debated the blurred lines between a liquid and a solid.  They defended their positions passionately.  The teachers did not "give the right answer."  Instead, they let the students explore the ambiguity, and asked them to support their interpretations.  "It is a liquid!  It is dripping  You can pour it!  You can pour liquids so it is a liquid!"  "No!  It is still a solid!  Look.  That is a big solid lump in the middle!"  The teachers nodded and agreed that they were accurately describing the characteristics of solids and liquids, and accurately describing the characteristics of their ice cream, and that it was possible to defend each interpretation.  "Good observation!"  The teachers would say.  "Write that down." 

I thought it was an amazing activity.  Ask a question.  Hypothesize.  Test it.  Record the data you observe.  Report back.  Defend your interpretations of the data.  Compare your results with the results of others who conducted the same experiment.  Were the results the same?  What factors impacted on the slight variation in results?  (Some consumed the root beer float so fast that the ice cream had little time to melt.)  Was your hypothesis correct? 

It was the scientific method, in an activity that was engaging and appropriate for 6 year olds.  And they have been doing experiments over and over and over all year.  At this point in the school year, they need to write down their hypothesis first, before conducting the experiment, and then write down their observations.   By the end of first grade, the scientific method is going to be second nature for these kids. 

And that is science. 

@Junebug - I apologize for going so far off topic in your thread.  And I am sorry that you have had so much pain in your life.  I am certain that there are many online communities where you will find members who with sympathize and empathize and provide you with support. 

You are welcome here, but you are not going to find many here who respond to you with sympathy or empathy.  You will find a lot of people who challenge you, and ask you to defend your beliefs with evidence. But if you feel like folks are ganging up on you, alert a guide or a mod or post your concerns in the Shelter.   

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Traveler I wish all schools would do this!!! April 13, 2013, 08:35:33 PM