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Making a Mess of Your Science Lessons
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The other morning I saw the question what's the difference between a scale and a balance, and can I use my Weight-Watcher's Scale. I pondered responding to the writer. There was a time, now decades ago, when I would have asked the exact same question. One of the things I have learned from using BJU Press materials for the past two and half decades is that it is truly user-friendly“ so, yes, if you have a digital kitchen scale and it can measure in grams, by all means, use it! But make sure you understand the difference between a scale and a balance, so that you can explain weight vs mass to your learner.

At my home, science is not really done like a laboratory but more like a mess. I strive to use the labs/experiments/activities as opportunities to ground and reinforce scientific principles. No matter what happens, I try to make sure we follow the scientific method: hypothesize, experiment, observe, record and repeat. Whether we try to figure out just how many pennies will break a piece of dry fettuccini when suspended in a cup (125,) or build a cone volcano and add vinegar and baking soda in order to see how lava flows down, or scratch various rocks trying to figure out which is harder, the chief purpose to teach my daughter how to think critically. And we try to have fun doing it!

Education is an investment, and having a solid science program means that I have some responsibilities. I always need to be looking ahead in the lessons to see what supplies we are going to need in the next couple of weeks. I want to make sure they are purchased (but not eaten!) and waiting for the day we do our experiment so that the lesson is completed in a timely fashion. Once in a while, I might have to hunt for the occasional item, but most of the materials are easily obtained. I need to keep in mind that budgets may need to be adjusted so that we can afford to get the more costly items (such as the digital scale,) and schedules each day have to leave enough room to complete the entire experiment and write up the lab. That means I have to remain flexible, not only in preparing for the lab, but also in the execution of it. And I need to also make sure that we have time to discuss the results in order to help reinforce what we learned.

Most of all, science experiments are worth everything you invest into them. Science is messy. It can be costly. It might even be crazy. but we love it! Both my student and I have an opportunity to be equals observing the results of our experiments. We laugh (or cry) and we build great memories. I try to remember to take pictures. Most of all I want to link what we did to what we are learning about and help my daughter to draw conclusions that will help her as she moves into more and more complicated material.

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Rebecca Kruc - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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