Today at Kindergarten we underwent some investigations with water beads. For those of you that are unsure what these are they are non-toxic polymer balls - often used by florists - that grow several sizes when soaked in water.
Although I knew what was going to happen, I was careful not to tell the children; I wanted them to be able wonder, hypothesis, ask questions and experience this dramatic transformation with no idea of what was to come, a great way to involve children in scientific thinking.
First, of course, we had to prepare the water beads. We tipped four packets (blue and clear) into a perspex box and added the correct amount of water. At first nothing happened, but slowly the children started to notice some subtle changes.
As their teacher I took the opportunity to simply wonder alongside the children about these changes, working to record their thinking and their fantastic descriptive language.
“Oh look it’s getting bigger, it’s starting to feel squishy…why are they getting bigger…we don’t know…cause it’s wet in there? Does the water make them bigger, I think yes, yes it does…they’ve grown from the water…I think they have filled themselves up with water…we are growing these…they are flowers, look, they look like flowers…they were so really really small and now they’re getting bigger…oh they are so beautiful…hey you are right when you look at them under water they are flowers…you can’t see the white as they are white just like water…hey I found something invisible…when the white ones are under the water I can feel them…they are so pretty”
I think you can see from this conversation between Levi, April, Ryan T, Rinah and Makenzie that they were totally engaged in their investigations of the beads, both physically and mentally .
Looking at, exploring and feeling the different textures of the beads.
‘Science for young children should involve asking questions, probing for answers, conducting investigations, and collecting data… children should be engaged both physically and mentally in investigating and manipulating elements in their environment’ (Chaille & Britain, 2003 and Wilson, 2008)