Academic journal article Science and Children

Creating Meaningful Products

Academic journal article Science and Children

Creating Meaningful Products

Article excerpt

The joy of discovery is certainly the liveliest that the mind of man can ever feel.

--Claude Bernard

In thinking back to my own elementary education, I don't recall many opportunities to share what I had learned with others. Of course there were quizzes and tests--products available to my teacher. The major product-sharing events I recall were science fairs. Granted, they were not structured in the way we now expect students to prepare their investigations, but they were nonetheless memorable. I believe it was those experiences, along with the TV show Mr. Wizard, that led me to science and teaching.

When I think about the iconic science fair project of those days, the erupting volcano comes to mind. Yes, that was my project. The paper-mache volcano was accompanied by a visual, including all of the things I managed to dig out of reference materials. In the end I had a product that revealed only a small portion of my learning. As meager as it might be in our eyes today and what we are attempting to do to align with the Next Generation Science Standards, the value of this paper-mache volcano is questionable. It was an inaccurate model that didn't solve a problem or answer a probing question. Or did it?

I learned to solve several problems through this model. Through many trial-and-error experiences, I taught myself how to make paper-mache and use the correct quantities of baking soda and vinegar for a spectacular "lava" flow. …

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