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June 23, 2015

Questions of children

I started a science class once a week with young children in Udavi.

I asked him what science was and the quick answer was experiments, then a study of living beings. I explored if they could tell a living being from a non-living being by creating a rule that we could apply. The children came up with various aspects they could think of it moves (you mean like a fan or car?),  it talks (like a tree?), soon the children got the hang of what was going on a conversation got going where a child would propose a rule and anyone who disagreed would come up with an example of why they disagree that the rule is always valid.

They made a table
Rule for Living and non-living:
Rule              Example(s) of Agreement     Example(s) of disagreement
Breathing      Humans, dogs                         Do plants breath?

It was interesting that even through children said living things - they first associated it with humans, then with animals, then plants and then non-living things....
It also took them some time to think in terms of examples of agreement of disagreement. Some of the children initially wrote living things in the first column and non-living things in the second column which were  in agreement with the hypothesis. It appears more tempting to classify than to see if it is relevant to a rule...

We then moved to questions they had, do plants breath. What is breathing? If its taking oxygen and giving out carbon-di-oxide (like a fire?) then its one answer and if its taking in air its another. This led us to doubts and questions children had and how as humans we are prone to have doubts and are willing to put an effort in resolving these doubts, perhaps, that is what science is. I wanted to hear from each child so we started talking about doubts that children had about the world, here are some of them:
- How can you tell if a fish is male or female?
- Where does an electric eel get its electricity from?
- Why do birds fly and not humans?
- How exactly do gills help fish get oxygen?
- Why do plants use carbon-di-oxide and give oxygen and why do humans do the opposite?
... and then it exploded, everyone had something to ask and add.

I suggested that we make one large list of all of them and go through them. Looks like a nice curriculum for that class to me.

I also noticed there were many fish questions, I wondered if it was natural or because the new building has a pond within it.

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