by Isabel Bonifert-Manig
One afternoon – there were still 8 children in my group – I put a bowl with snow in the group room and waited for what would happen. So there was no experimental setup prepared, but we felt our way from experiment to experiment.
Each child worked at a single table and was allowed to try as long as it wanted and until it was „full“. As soon as a child had found out something, everyone watched and the child explained what it had researched. I let the children try it out and – according to their ideas – provided them with the necessary material as far as they could not find it themselves. At the end we sat down at a table and the children dictated to me what to write down. Each child formulated the process and its conclusions after the experiment itself, as it is noted here.
The children already had experience with experimenting, some are especially gifted.
For reasons of anonymity the names were changed.
1. Michael (4;11 years):
„Snow is held in a pot over the candle.
Snow melts and becomes water. I fill it into a glass and give it to my mom.“
2. Justin (5;0 years):
„Snow and salt also melts, but slowly. First holes appear, then it gets watery. It also goes everything somehow to the wall. It tastes quite salty.“
3. Rebecca (4;9 years):
„Blue colored water and snow together. It melts. At the end I have only blue, cold water.“
4. Marie (5;9 years)
finds out that „the blue snow first becomes ice – and then water.“
5. Adam (4;9 years):
„I pour boiling water into the snow. Everything quickly becomes water. You have to be careful with the hot water.“
6. Michael (4;11 years):
„Light the snow. He gets brown. The flame doesn’t go out, but there are hissing brown spots.“
7. Justin and Rebecca:
„Snow melts on the tongue, becomes water and you can drink it.“
(Attention, attention: You may not do this with ice from water. Very cold ice sticks to the tongue.)
„Candle wax dripping in snow. There is a lump, not a plate.“
It was amazing how concisely and precisely the children formulated and how disciplined and attentive they were all the time. The prerequisite for this is certainly that the children are given plenty of time, space and undisturbed quietness for working to try out and reflect: What actually happened there?
Through the small experiments, they have experienced something new and have been able to use their skills to observe and formulate things precisely. But they also showed an already well-developed ability to stay close to the phenomenon – an important prerequisite for scientific research.
Date of publication in German: 2009, November
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.