I think that one of the most important jobs as a parent is to teach the children how to learn, and for a nerd like me, that means sharing with them the 'scientific method'
The scientific method states: Ask a question, construct a hypothesis, test hypothesis, and analyze results. Basically, from a parent point of view, I think of this as "Keep learning and asking questions"
One day the children were asking about acids, I thought "What a great opportunity to teach them something." I mentioned that we have some acids around the house that we used in food, and they wanted to see how powerful these acids were.
The question: How strong are the household acids boiled down to "Could some of the acids in the house melt a penny?"
Hypothesis: Maybe (I guess the real hypothesis was "A Penny can be melted from edible acids"
Test the Hypothesis:
We placed a penny in the lemon juice, a penny in the vinegar, and didn't keep aside a penny for a control.
Within hours the penny in the Vinegar got shiny:
The penny in the Lemon Juice did not:
The children had thought that the lemon juice would melt the penny, and they were a little more right; the vinegar just did a fantastic job cleaning the penny, but it's my thought that the zinc and copper in the penny reacted with the lemon juice to create a low charge battery that left the penny looking burned. Perhaps next time I'll try to get a charge measuring tool to see if that's really the case.
Result: The children were amazed, they laughed, and thought that they must be the most clever children in the world to do such an experiment, they were a little disapointed that neither penny was a melted goop, but their satisfaction at being mini scientists was more than worth the time we put into it.
Have you done any experiments in the home? Do you have any suggestions for an experiment or two that the children would be more than amazed to try out?
Science Fair Ideas website - http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml
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