This year I made a firm decision that no matter what happens, I would include science experiments in my instruction. It is my belief that we are not truly teaching science, if we are not conducting science experiments in our classrooms. How else will the students begin to genuinely think like a scientist and understand the scientific method without actually experimenting in class? The answer is simple. They won’t.
I’m happy to report on our second experiment–Skittles Science! I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Runde’s Room, and she mentioned this experiment. I immediately went to teacherspayteachers.com to purchase this product. (That’s right. She’s that good. Every recommendation from her has been quality.)
This particular product has more than just the science experiment in it, but I just used the PPT to explain the key points I wanted students to focus on i.e. how to record observations.
The question to be investigated was: Do Skittles dissolve faster in hot water or cold water?
Once the question was posed we went to work through the scientific process. Each student had to form their own hypothesis based on their prior knowledge of the effects of different temperatures of water on certain items. It was very interesting to hear the students’ reasoning to support their hypothesis. Most of the students predicted that the hot water would dissolve the skittle faster due to the fact that items are dissolved in hot water more often than cold. (For example, hot tea, coffee, cleaning dishes.)
The following are pictures of the students conducting their experiments. I chose to leave the procedure part open to each group to decide the steps they needed to take. I simply told them the materials and tools that would be available to them (pretty much like the diaper experiment). And might I add, the procedural steps were SO MUCH BETTER than the first experiment. Yay, they are learning from their mistakes! Just look at how engaged these kids are. I love it!
As far as some teacher tips….here goes:
1. I heated water from home and brought it to school in a large thermos. I also have a Keurig in the classroom and was prepared to use that if we needed more water.
2. Each group needs to have a stopwatch or timer of some sort to record timed data. (Cell phones worked well for this.)
3. Set aside at least an hour of time for this lesson. On average, skittles were dissolving in 8-10 minutes and the experiment calls for 3 trials. Personally, I thought this was a good lesson on patience and persistence. They are used to conducting school experiments in which the “reaction”, whatever that may be, happens pretty quickly. The students struggled tremendously with having to wait and watch the changes in the skittle because it occurs slowly. I used this as a teaching moment to explain how meticulous and patient real scientists need to be in order to obtain reliable data. Scientists do not dismiss experiments simply because “something” doesn’t happen after a minute. Reliable data is usually gathered over long periods of time.
Overall, the students had a great time being scientists. Once we finish recording all the data on their lab sheets, I’ll post some pictures of the final product.