Science: The Thrill of Discovery
The aim of this hands-on learning experience is to accelerate the understanding, further arouse the curiosity, stimulate the imagination, and foster the creative-thinking and problem-solving abilities of students.
Students will experience some demonstrations aimed at encouraging them to make predictions, hypothesise, and develop explanations and fostering a keen interest in phenomena around them.
They will carry out a range of experiments which may include:
- solving mysteries or problems using forensic science (e.g., chemical tests, chromatography, fingerprinting) and creative thinking,
- making slime, a rocket, weather indicator, fire alarm, warm water fountain, rainbow, siphon, fire extinguisher, telescope, whirly seed, a screamer, electric circuit, electromagnet, concrete, Mobius band, Roman arch, and balancing toy.
- being fascinated by the floating ball, moving water droplet, magic writing, mysteriously rising water, magic candle, memory wire, the cups and the balloon, their blind spot, persistence of vision, "talking" cup, and tornado tube.
- studying the burning candle question, misbehaving superball, inertia, uncontrollable foot, floating and sinking, immiscible liquids, acid/base indicators, compressed air water fountain, capillary action, soft and hard water, the greenhouse effect, cooling effect of breezes, location of nerve endings, how shape affects strength, falling objects, sound waves, balance, taste and smell, heating effects of different colours, effects of air pressure, and the magic sand wand,
- observing colours of spectra with a spectroscope, the behaviour of heat sensitive crystals, curving tape, and effects of UV light, and
- bending a laser beam to hit a target, using magnets to slow the fall of an object, tying a knot in water, classifying rocks and minerals, testing for UV light, measuring reaction time, burning fabrics, focussing light rays, racing tin cans, and operating a steam engine.
Our nation's future, and indeed that of our world, will depend upon creative approaches requiring problem-solving skills, and the activities in this program foster creativity and problem-solving in a friendly, supportive, and student-centred environment. Bright and enthusiastic children will find their imagination challenged as their mentor acts as a guide and source of encouragement in an exciting hands-on atmosphere free of criticism and in which mistakes are welcomed as learning opportunities rather than being feared. Above all, the emphasis is on fun, enjoyment, and safety.
Research has shown that activities like this can play a key role in motivating students in both their studies and along career paths. An emphasis is also placed on demonstrating the central role that science and technology play in society by relating the activities to real-life applications. Students will typically perform investigations in pairs, thus also fostering the important traits of cooperation and respect for others.
Format, Suitability, and Cost
A typical structure comprises three or four sessions per day, each up to 1.5 h, with up to 50 to 60 students per session. Suitable for Years 4 - 7. Cost $8 (plus 80c GST) per student (minimum 150 students).
Venue and Other Requirements
Data projector and screen, an appropriate number of student desks (with horizontal tops) or tables/trestles for workstations, ready access to tap water and a sink, waste bin, a floor that can take some drips or any spills, covered footwear for students. (Additional power points desirable.)
Feedback From Schools
- "The students absolutely LOVED the hot air balloon. The hands-on activities engaged students, who loved that they were the ones 'in charge' of the activities. The learning and explanations at each workstation were great." Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School, Sydney
- "The forensic activity was an excellent use of a fictional context for group investigation . . . Excellent personal interaction with students . . . Educational and entertaining--students were very focussed." Jane Bradbury and Carly Davidson, Coolnwynpin State School, Brisbane
Feedback From Students
- "It's fun, cool, and exciting and you learn a lot."
- "You can do so many things and they are really interesting."
- "Good, all hands-on."
- "He explains things very well."
- "He's understanding and lets us try things by ourselves."
- "He doesn't get angry if we make a mistake."
- "He doesn't preach at you or talk down to you, but takes you as you are."
- "He allows any question and answers honestly."
- "I would definitely recommend this program to other students."