Empty-purse Barefoot Experiments that make interesting demos in school or at home…

The basic Montessori curriculum has tonne loads of nice presentations and experiments (and Namma Shaale is well equipped with all these), and if only one has the time to sit with the children, he/she would be amazed at the kind of depth and breadth of knowledge any child has.

The framework attempted to be presented here is merely one of probably very many ways of adding more to the bucket, so that interesting activities can be done with the children, with a view to consolidating their ideas about the universe.

This document has to be read from the perspective of a non-montessori trained person, who means well, and who likes working with the enthusiastic and marvellous Erdkinder at Namma Shaale.

Your comments are most welcome.


Notes / preamble:

The idea is to document the various interesting experiments (that can lead to Aha! type discoveries by children – in sciences and humanities) which can be undertaken with a little bit of care and preparation – but with very little investment (if any) by way of equipment.

If an adult has sufficient resilience and some reasonable grounding in liberal arts, she/he would find it easier to do the experiments and elicit the opinions of the children – so there is no need for an erudite science expert or ‘resource person’ to deliver the fun ideas – as the idea of documenting these experiments is to dispense with these.

All along the presentation, the ‘stealing of thunder’ from children would sought to be avoided and the children would merely be nudged towards discovering the law or the principle behind what’s happening – provided they have the prerequisites in place.

The experiments need to be part of a framework (eventually) of experiments that all children need to be exposed to – at the level of Erdkinder. And by way of reverse integration, all these experiments have to link back to concepts / presentations made as part of the primary and elementary curricula in the school.

The time taken per experiment will vary between 15 mins to 20 minutes excluding discussions – but this has to be recorded and averaged as we collect more data.

All the experiments would tend the follow the following format – and there shall be one parent document per experiment.

Prerequisites: What are the things / nuggets of information that the children need to know before they can appreciate the experiment or the effect.

Suggested Target group age band: This would vary anywhere between primary to elementary to erdkinder – that is from may be 6 years to 15 years (and more). But this ageband criterion is not to be treated very strictly – if from the perspective of ‘readyness’ of a child or a given group the experiment would merit presentation, so be it.

Goal(s): What are the factoids that can be practically seen and verified by children and what are they expected to do.

Ingredients/Apparatus required: This set of items should be kept ready before beginning the presentation, unless an ‘effect’ is sought to be created in the minds of children, by ‘casually’ taking an otherwise dull and mundane thing or a set of objects and creating an Aha! situation.

Experimental procedure: This will be detailed and if necessary, should have diagrams.

Effect: The details of the experiment will lead to this and this will be rather cute or counterintuitive in most of the cases – to capture the imagination of the child. Or it is so common that we take it for granted, but the principle behind this is so very cute. So the effect should be able to clearly demo the principle and which is sought to be ‘discovered’ by children.

Questions for discussion: All thru the presentation, questions from children need to be positively encouraged; to elicit the opinions of children the following types of questions can be posed:

o Why – this prodding will work normally

o Why not – this kind of prodding will produce amazing results and will truly be real learning for adults too!

o What happens when – To make the children think about the given framework and what can be thought within the framework

o What could happen if / if not – These are gadenken experiments and children would enjoy these modes of questions; these are out of the framework or the basic context of the experiment.

Eventually the children should be able to zero-in on the principles behind the effect on their own, but if not, they can be given clues and similar effects.

Closure: There should be definite closure to the demo – repeating and reaffirming the basic principle involved; can take the form of ‘Look, this is what I did and this is what happened. Do we agree that this could be a reason? What do you think happened? Was it <any of the (off tangent) suggestions from the children> or <any of the correct explanations>.’

This will close the activity at the class / environment.

Records / notes: These should be created by the adults for each instance of the experiment – typically as appendices to the same document so that ‘lessons learnt’ could be captured and disseminated later on. This could be some interesting diversions or some interesting questions etc etc.

Precautions: The usual stuff – but that which cannot be ignored!

Suggested activities: These should be done by the children as a way of reinforcing their learning; these typically could take the form of the following:

o Encouraging them to perform the experiments at home – for the benefit of parents. (may be)

o Conducting a quiz on the factoids (oral / written) the following day.

o Extensions that the children can be prompted to explore.

Sources: Wherever possible there should be citations. We can also openly share our documentation.

Revision history:

$$ Created: 18th August;      ver 0.1    $$

$$ Revised: 15th December; ver 0.2    $$

Again, comments are welcome.

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