Our first day of science explored magnetism. The kids put on their invisible science caps and we told them they would be scientists. I asked them if anyone knows what a scientist does. We gradually steered their wide range of answers to talking about sceintists asking questions about the world around them and figuring out how things work.
I wasn’t sure at first whether a first grader could handle a long word like “hypothesis,” but a friend of mine pointed out that they all know the word “Tyranasaurus.” So we introduced new words: observe, hypothesis, experiment, result.
We gave each kid a magnet and for each table we had a baggie full of different objects. We encouraged them to see which objects stuck to the magnet and which ones didn’t. After they tried all the materials in the baggie, they started in on nearby classroom objects. They learned that the magnet will stick to the table as it rolls down the side of it. They noticed that it will stick to the underside of the table while it rolls upside down. It was a wild period of discovery.
Next we took the magnets away and gave each child five objects (aluminum foil, sponge, paper, a washer, and a penny) and a worksheet where they could write down the hypothesis (will it stick to the magnet? yes/no) and later record the results. Then we gave back the magnets and they did the experiment.
My favorite part was when one child had guessed that the magnet would stick to the paper. I asked her to do the experiment. She placed the magnet on the paper and announce that it did stick to the paper. Great observation! I shared that with the whole class. What happens when you pick up the magnet? How does it behave differently when you put it on the washer and pick it up?
Kids naturally learn through play. There are no right and wrong answers. Its all about using their senses to discover the world around them.
inspired by UTexas First Grade Lab