Learning to be wrong

As I have mentioned in previous posts, supporting students in making their own choices and asking their own questions has been a focus of our curriculum work at the ISP. To that end, we recently reorganized a third grade unit on sound and the scientific process to allow students to explore their own questions and curiosities about sound. Students either asked a question about sound, developed a hypothesis, created a plan, and interpreted their results, or they built an instrument and discussed what they learned about pitch, frequency, and volume in the process of making the instrument.  Last week, we had a Sound Salon in which students shared their experiments, instruments, and insights.

When discussing the experience with a one of my students, I asked him what he had learned from the experience. He said that his hypothesis was wrong. When I probed further and asked what he learned from his hypothesis being wrong his reply was fantastic. He said, “I learned that I am not always right.” This would be a profound insight for most students but this is a student who will argue and insist he is right when there is any conflict with peers or teachers. This is DEEP learning for him. What a success.

Helping students to ask questions, test hypothesis in a systematic way, and learn to be wrong is such an important life lesson. It is how knowledge is built and how we learn to be resilient and to persist to uncover answers to our questions. One way to provide students with opportunities for this type of learning is to provide space and time  for them to be scientists. Below, find an example and links to more from education.com, a guest contributor this month.

Do You Need To Plant Seeds a Certain Direction for Them to Germinate?

Objective:Find out whether planting seeds in certain directions will affect how fast it germinates… or whether it germinates at all.
Research Questions:What factors affect seed germination?
Plants grow through a process called photosynthesis, when the chlorophyll located in the chloroplast of the plant cells grabs sunlight and starts the reactions that are needed to make the plant grow. Water is also needed in the growth equation, because like humans and animals, plants need moisture to quench their thirst. But does the angle of the seed in the soil affect the plant’s ability to absorb sun and water? Let’s find out.
For more fun and engaging science activities, go to Education.com!

  • Twelve bean seeds (same age)
  • Four plant pots
  • Soil
  • Water
  • Sunlight

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Put some soil in each plant pot up to the ledge.
  2. Poke three spaced-out holes into each of the four pots.
  3. In the first pot, insert three seeds (one in each hole) vertically. Close the holes up and give it a pat. Label the pot “Vertical-Up.”
  4. In the second pot, insert three seed vertically, but inversed. Close the holes up and give it a pat. Label the pot “Vertical-Down.”
  5. In the third pot, insert three seeds horizontally, with the concave part up. Cover the holes with soil and give it a pat. Label this pot “Horizontal-Up.”
  6. In the fourth pot, insert four seeds in horizontally, with the convex part up. Cover the holes with soil and give it a pat. Label this pot “Horizontal-Down.”
  7. Take these pots to a spot with adequate sunlight and give each a little water (measure the same amount).
  8. Observe which seeds germinate first.

Terms/Concepts: germination; plant care; plant growth process; seeds

Author: Sofia PC

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