Extracurricular activity “Scientific Workshop” offers children the ability of active exploring. Daily objects and non-hazardous substances constitute a diverse array for the execution of scientific procedures. At the same time experiments with their astonishing outcomes – pops, movements without touching, explosive lift-offs…, invoke excitement in a child and encourage a wish for further exploring. In that way, dull lectures about the laws of nature transform into an exciting research adventure, play and satisfaction with ones one successful experiment which enrich child’s knowledge.
Key words: extracurricular activity, active learning, experimental work, exploring, play.
With an active integration into class lessons, students are developing their capabilities. They train their abilities, evolve positive personal characteristics and develop a positive attitude towards nature.
Scientific literacy is a combination of understanding phenomena, processes and terms. Students train their skills and knowledge about scientific procedures, sort, measure, predict, assume and carry out experiments. With such activities, they become curious, critical and precise. At the same time, they gain social skills – collaborate in team work, follow the instructions, are able to organise their working space before and after the workshop (Skribe-Dimec 2012 in Žakelj et al. 2014, 16).
Scientific Workshop as an extracurricular, through its tasks works in connection with the contents of science class. In a child, who is curious by nature that very curiosity has to be awoken. A class experiment disrupts the daily routine of sitting and listening to the teacher’s explanation. Exploring sets the fundaments of child’s creativity and is a pleasant transition from passive into active learning.
Experiments originate from every day phenomena. That is, however, also the reason why they are especially interesting for children of younger age – who would not wish to build a rocket powered by an effervescent tablet and water?! An experiment that stirs surprise and joy in a child already in his or her second grade, leads towards enthusiastic research also in the upcoming years. At the extracurricular activity, we observe the phenomena, set hypotheses, debate about causes and consequences and are always happy when our experiments succeed. According to the instructions, every student sets his or her own materials needed to carry out the experiment. Materials are none health invasive and can be found in a home kitchen.
Children prefer such way of learning, which is confirmed by numerous applications for the workshop and regular attendance, but especially sparkling eyes of expectation and curiosity.
That is how in our class, we created an actual volcano, launched a rocked powered by effervescent tablet. We were having fun making extraordinary aeroplanes, built a hovercraft using a CD and a balloon, a rocket made of a plastic bottle, a flying peg top or a mini-helicopter, fought fire with an invisible firefighter etc.
After all that, we also participated at the community event where we inspired the audience by dancing and performing experiments.
Goals of the Scientific Workshop:
- To get to know the scientific procedures and the basic terms of scientific research.
- To get familiar with the term HYPOTHESIS.
- To train in thinking, presuming and setting hypotheses.
- To follow the instructions to create the experimental setup.
- To become familiar with the basics of research with which the fundaments for further research work in the upcoming years of study are being established.
- To become able to function as a part of a group.
- Invoke curiosity as a positive quality for creativity.
- Knowing how to learn from mistakes.
- To abide the safety and the given instructions.
- Experiencing joy and satisfaction upon succeeding.
- To relax and have fun.
Monthly Intended Activities of the Scientific Workshop:
I run the extracurricular activity Scientific Workshop with pupils from the second and third grade. It is taking place once a week for two school hours throughout the entire schoolyear.
Using words and pictures, I will now present a few experiments of the workshop for pupils of the second and third grade of primary school.
We need a CD, a cork from a plastic bottle and a balloon.
- Inflate the balloon a few times beforehand, for it to become more elastic.
- Carefully glue the cork to the middle of the CD using hot glue.
- Put the balloon over the cork.
- The balloon can now also be inflated through the underside of the CD.
More at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DikofrxCiXs, 15/01/2022.
How to Inflate a Balloon?
- Pour 0.2 l of water into a 0.5 l plastic bottle. Add a few spoons of Lemon Verbena powder. Using a funnel made of paper, pour two teaspoons of baking soda into the balloon. Carefully sick the balloon to the top of the plastic bottle and watch out not to pour the soda out of the balloon too soon. Then lift up the balloon and shake it a bit for the soda to fall into the solution.
- We are able to detect foam and bubbles and the balloon will start to inflate.
Figure 5. Is it Magic or is it Something else?
What is happening?
When we mix baking soda with the solution of Lemon Verbena powder, a chemical reaction occurs in which carbon dioxide gas (CO2) is produced. Due to the lack of space in the bottle it starts to spread in a way that it inflates the balloon.
A Table Volcano
- Pour approximately 1 dl of water into a plastic bottle. Dye the water with red tempera colour. Add some detergent and two teaspoons of baking soda.
- Slowly swirl, so that it does NOT foam.
- Add two teaspoons of Lemon Verbena powder or some vinegar to trigger the reaction. The solution will foam and from the bottle “hot lava” starts to flow.
- Using a plastic bottle, some newspaper and starch glue, you can build a volcano and insert the bottle inside it as a crater.
How to Get an Egg into a Bottle and out?
- Boil the egg, peal it and wait for it to get completely cold. Pick an egg that is as small as possible.
- First, heat up the glass bottle well from the outside. To do so, use a hairdryer or put it under hot water. Position it horizontally and oil its opening a bit.
- When the egg is put on the opening it starts to slowly drift into the bottle. In a few minutes it is inside it.
Figure 10. What on Earth?! Is that even Possible?!
Now, how are we going to get it out?
We perform the experiment in the opposite direction. We turn the bottle upside down, and heat it up from all sides. The warm air pushes the egg out of the bottle.
People are a part of nature, meaning science is an especially important aspect of a child’s life. Students have to be actively engaged into research – with their mind and handcraft. With the satisfaction upon successful experiments, however, the motivation for further research of children grows even more. In that way, they will want to know even more about a certain phenomenon (Žakelj, 2014).
That is exactly what the work in the extracurricular activity, with a smaller number of pupils, enables me to achieve. By the same token, even I as a teacher enjoy hearing children’s joyful shouts, seeing their eyes widely open and full of wonder, answer their questions that arise during the work, whilst their happiness and laughter give me the proof that it is worth it. That children are not only passionate about sitting and playing videogames. The curiosity comes from inside them, all we need to do is to offer them a chance to become active themselves. Through that they uncover the wonders of nature, its laws and the fact that we are inherently connected to it. That we only exist with the nature. Therefore, the upbringing of children in a positive spirit and a respect towards nature, is of an immense importance.
- Učni načrt za naravoslovje in tehniko (2011). Ljubljana: Ministrstvo za šolstvo in šport: Zavod RS za šolstvo
- Zorec, M. (2007). Naravoslovna delavnica: preprosti naravoslovni eksperimenti in projekti za vsakogar. Ljubljana: Tehniška založba Slovenije
- Žakelj, A. (2014). Spoznavanje okolja naravoslovje in tehnika. Ljubljana: Zavod RS za šolstvo, page 16 – https://www.zrss.si/pdf/pos-pouka-os-spozn-okolja.pdf
Figures (all): Own source