“When you make those kinds of noises, you’re learning,” said Kathi Hoover, assistant coordinator for Title I in the district. “Discovery learning is the best.”
Teacher Vicki Douglas said her after-school students at Bon Air are always surprised by how much she lets them do. She doesn’t interfere when they’re doing their experiments — even if she sees them doing something wrong.
She lets them make mistakes and then talks with them about it afterwards. They discuss what went wrong and why.
That happened during the tornado experiment. The younger students got excited and didn’t wait for directions.
They violently shook their bottles of soap, water and glitter up and down instead of in a side-to-side swirling motion. The soap foamed up so much that they could no longer see the little tornado inside.
Douglas told them to let the soap settle, and try it again.
“The important thing with science is to let them do it themselves,” she said. “They learn what to do and what not to do.”
And when they’re done with the activities, they write about the results in their journals. Douglas also takes photos of the activities and hangs them on the walls.
There are pictures of kids measuring beans on a scale, testing out the helicopters and parachutes they made and building things with gum drops, marshmallows and tooth picks.
“That one was all about having a good foundation and seeing how things fit together,” Douglas said.
During a unit on construction, students also built homes out of household items. Then they ran tests to see whose was strong enough to withstand the gusts of air coming from a blow dryer. It was like they were living out the story of the Three Little Pigs, Douglas said.