Science Lessons and Activities in the Classroom
Although I am a staunch proponent of using education technology in classrooms, I have never considered activity-based approaches to be inferior. Pablo Picasso once said, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
On 15 September, I was reading the morning newspaper by sipping a cup of warm coffee. In southern India, where I live, we usually use a container, known as tumbler, made of brass or stainless steel, to drink coffee. As I read the newspaper bit by bit, between several sips of coffee, I placed the tumbler on a paper or plastic lid. That morning when I picked up my tumbler from the plastic lid, the latter also got picked up along with the tumbler, as if the tumbler were a magnet.
I repeated this action quite a few times, just to witness the bond between the tumbler and the plastic lid. Though the incident is nothing extraordinary, it served as a great illustration of a very important and often thought of as an abstract concept in high school physics-- Surface tension. I have used several such household phenomena, which children experience everyday, to teach science concepts at the elementary and middle school stage. Not once did I require any costly or special equipment. This inspired me to create science lessons and activities that were based on every day occurrences.
There are many places in a lesson where we can introduce activity-based approaches. Most often the best time to use `action packed’ activities, as far as I have experienced, is when we introduce a lesson. Once we captivate children’s interest at the very beginning, it is less difficult to sustain it later. I can recall an incident when my physics students were a little surprised to see a metal coin stuck to my forehead as I entered the classroom. Although they did know there were some `magical’ moments waiting to be unfolded, it was the first time they saw me with `cosmetic’ make-up at the very beginning of the lesson. As I entered the class, I said to them, “Hello guys! Wondering how stuff sticks to my forehead? We shall see it in today’s lesson!" This was another demonstration of surface tension and another example of science lessons and activities in the classroom that proved effective.
Simple hands-on activities not only bring joy and excitement to kids, they also make them think. Almost all science concepts up to the middle school level can be taught very effectively by using simple activities.