i’m a science teacher

17 09 2008

…well, not exactly a teacher, but I was given the task to create a one-a-month science lesson for 1-3 graders to fill our WOW (Wild on Wednesday) Super Science slot. (The school district has early-out day on Wednesday, so we do some programming for school-aged kids in the mid-afternoons). So those of you who know me know that science and I are not two things you would normally associate. I was very apprehensive about taking on the duties of this program, but I did, and after the first time…. I’m exhausted!

I chose to talk about matter, and the three basic states of matter (solids, liquids, and gasses). We did a series of three experiments, which all came with their own instruction sheets) illustrating some different chemical reactions. The first one was really basic–all the kids had to do was add vinegar to milk and let it sit. The vinegar separates the milk into its solid and liquid parts “souring” it. The second had the kids place some drops of food coloring in milk that was filling the bottom of a pie plate, and then add a drop of dishwashing liquid. The dishwashing liquid “chases” the color away, much like if you tried to put the positive ends of two magnets together. The last experiment we did was the “big” one. We used cornstarch, water, and a couple of drops of food coloring to create an Ooze, which takes on the properties of a non-Newtonian substance. (Which, by the way, did you know that ketchup and quicksand are the other two “famous” non-Newtonian substances?) Non-Newtonian (for the other two librarians who read this) substances have properties of both liquids and solids. There’s some other big science words to describe it, but basically, if you touch it slowly, it acts like a liquid, and if you try to manipulate it quickly, it acts like a solid.

The kids had a ball mixing the ingredients up in a big bowl. There was cornstarch everywhere. We have tablecloths, which I had of course set out… but I had underestimated how much would get on the carpet.

Oh. My. Stars. After the 45 minutes or so of running around helping the first graders who don’t know how to read yet, and the boy who mixed everything on the table (which was for all three of the experiments) into his bowl before I caught him, and the girl who dumped an entire bottle of food coloring into her pie plate of milk, I was exhausted. And then I surveyed the landscape.

I foolishly thought clean-up wouldn’t take too long…. yeah, try an hour and 15 minutes. And the only reason it didn’t take me any longer was because one of my co-workers took pity on me and helped me out instead of taking her supper break. I would probably still be on my hands and knees finding little dried bits of Ooze on the carpet. We discovered the only way to get it off the carpet was by taking a scrub brush to it and vacumming up the crumbs.

In the end, I guess it was successful. I can say I’m glad I have 2 months to plan the next one (its not until November) and that the next topic I picked is ramps and motion, which means we won’t have any food-like substances to play with. 🙂




One response

17 09 2008

LOL, you poor thing. We made Ooze (we called it Oobleck) in college as part of a chemistry day. And we made a mess then. I can only imagine what first graders must have been like. Love you bunches!

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