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Scientists At Work

Our “fruit & vegetable” clock – a great way to explore energy in food!

Our Cultural lessons have swung their focus back unto science, after two terms that used cross-curricular studies of the continents as a thematic focal point. It is fitting that our academic year began with the deep and vast scientific inquiry launched by the Story of the Universe, and now draws to a close with a more targeted review of physical forces, motion, matter, energy and light.

In the past month, the children have enjoyed refreshing their memories on fundamental concepts in the physical sciences by testing their limits! The scientific method once again took centre stage, as children carried out various experiments designed to enable them to ponder and comprehend the mysterious rules and

Bravely testing centrifugal and centripetal forces.

patterns that govern and shape our universe. Younger children, for example, loved testing centrifugal and centripetal forces by swinging around a plastic container filled with all kinds of objects from our classroom. They squealed with excitement and glee as we kept piling on more and more things, practically “daring” gravity to do its best against the powerful centrifugal and centripetal forces that kept the objects from falling!

Learning how the Earth’s rotation affects light and shadow.

The hands-on nature of experiments fosters truly deep and lasting knowledge. No amount of discussion, lecture or presentation can match the effectiveness of personal experience for a child in the process of learning. Several days after we tested the power of friction by measuring the distances travelled by a sphere over different surfaces, for example, a first-year child excitedly ran up to the teacher to mention how her skirt lessened her friction as she went down the slide, making her go faster! These natural, independent connections are the precious fruits of Montessori education, and are lifelong in their value. Students have also relished being able to take follow-up experiments home, and carrying out experiments that require making observations over the weekend. Coming back to school equipped with independently-made observations and conclusions sets the stage for truly rich and insightful discussions that focus on the children’s ability to observe and infer.

Examining fruit specimens to learn about the functions of fruits and seeds.

The third term has also brought the advent of the spring season, and we have likewise focused on review lessons in the life sciences, with emphasis on germination and reproduction in plants. Technology has been a particularly useful tool in our exploration of botany. Besides the obvious importance of the microscope when examining small specimens, video footage has offered some fantastic and eye-opening enrichment to our lessons. The students particularly enjoyed germinating seeds and watching time-lapse videos on the SmartBoard of various types of plants as they grew from seeds. It was eye-opening for the children to watch the growth of seeds in high-speed, the camera catching the motion that our naked eyes cannot. Hearing them cry, “It’s the radicle! The radicle’s coming out!” as they witnessed on video the primary root wriggling its way out of the seed coat was priceless! Paired with the dissection of a germinated seed, these videos offered a truly vibrant and dynamic dimension to our study of plant life.

Independent research.

We are very excited to have already begun working on our in-class “Science Fair!” Many students have already started brainstorming by narrowing down their science topics and launching their research using investigative questions. So far, many of the children’s initial, curious questions (“Can plants grow in rock? What is acid made of? What colour is carbon dioxide? Why do magnets magically attract?”) hold great promise! Subsequent lessons will focus on tweaking questions to narrow down their scientific focus, and working on the structure and sequence of the experiment. So far, the children have kept their topics “top secret” from each other, and are looking forward to sharing their discoveries during the fair! Watch out for it in June!

Till then, be very, very quiet … scientists are at work in LEU!

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