We've been meaning to make a home-made volcano for a while now given Joseph's interest in all things dinosaur related! As luck would have it he was bought a volcano kit for his birthday, and so on Wednesday we embarked on making our landscape and setting up the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda volcano.
It was great fun, and all three boys enjoyed taking part. It got me thinking about science and the kind of experiments we did in school, most of which I don't remember off-hand, although I remember thinking it would be a good lesson if the Bunsen Burners were coming out! Sandra Dodd pointed out on the Always Learning list a few months ago that many 'experiments' are not science at all but simply the process of recreating a discovery that somebody else has already made. I think she's right, I don't remember any classroom science experiments that I embarked on without knowing the results I 'should' see.
Small children on the other hand are brilliant natural scientists and are constantly developing and testing theories about how things work and the world around them, in order to expand their knowledge and understanding. So while we were enjoying our volcano a couple of days ago, I was thinking about a game Joseph had been playing the day before which amounted to a pretty good spontaneous science experiment. He was playing with toys and flipping them off of a wrestling platform to see how far they would travel. In no time at all he was chatting about the size and weight of the toys, making predictions about how far he thought they might travel based on these factors, and experimenting with flinging them higher and administering different amounts of pressure to the platform! Here he is comparing two toy penguins...the man in front was in charge of the flipping!
Nobody told him what to look for or what he might find, he was playing and simply making observations which turned his game into a fusion of logic and creativity. Ultimately for Joseph this was play, the means he has used for most of his great discoveries to date! Children's play is serious business!
The discoveries I have made for myself have been the most powerful, so perhaps thats why I am so keen for my children to make their own, rather than following someone else's formula. When Joseph, Callum and Charlie are making discoveries for themselves they are creating. Creativity was limited to certain subjects when I was in school, although even in those I think its arguable how much creativity was really taking place. It's a wonderful advantage of learning at home that we can allow creativity to play a role in every area of our learning; creativity and logic are not mutually exclusive.
"The greatest scientists are artists as well" ~ Albert Einstein