Friday, July 24, 2009

Deconstructing science

Very often, parents of second and third graders do not realize the importance of teaching their children the basic concepts of science. It is an important part of any curriculum and very easily taught and learnt. Trouble is, most of the more complex concepts such as the one below are left for higher grades when they are introduced in their "definition format". Children learn it by rote and parents just look the other way.
I say, let's learn science the simple way and teach it the simple way as well. So, here goes- the first of a several part series on how simple teaching science really is. Please note however that learning is an everyday, every minute thing, just like breathing. So do not put aside time for these activities; instead do them whenever the mood catches you. These will be in random order and here's the first...

What is friction?
Sounds daunting? Well go on, rub your hands together.. with more enthusiasm. Are your hands sore? Well, that's because you created friction. Friction is what happens when two objects rub against each other; in this case your hands. There! that's simple. When you rubbed your hands together, they must have also felt hot. So, friction causes heat. Now oil your hands and rub them together. Not so sore or hot, was it? That's because you used a lubricant - oil. That's why we need lubricants to control friction. It cannot really be eliminated in the real world, only in vacuum. We'll deal with that another time.
Now for the teaching children part: Make them do the same thing as you did; and tell them that it is called friction. It is a myth that small children cannot understand complex things. After all neither the activity nor the effects was complex - just the word: friction. So say it. Say it again when the door creaks. Oil - lubricate - it and the creaking is gone- friction reduced! Repeat the word whenever life presents you with the opportunity. By the time your child reaches the higher grade the definition is no longer a demon that needs to be learnt by rote.Just a scientific way of saying something learnt repeatedly over time!

1 comment:

  1. i like that. put very simply. and elegantly. you must be a super mom.