Friday, December 4, 2009

Question, Predict, Try, Analyze, and Retry

The exhibits in AirWorks allow children to use the scientific method involving questioning, predicting, trying, analyzing and retrying. In the last post we looked at the first misconception children have about air - that is children didn't understand that wind is air that moves. They thought air to be magical and unpredictable. Because air is invisible, children may not think or ask questions about it. However, the exhibits in AirWorks provide the freedom to use misunderstandings about air as powerful starting points in constructing new and more accurate knowledge.

During the development phase of AirWorks, we also discovered other common misconceptions about air. Some children showed confusion about the interplay between objects in air. How do objects move in air? There was confusion about why air moves and what air pressure is. A common denominator with air play is that children were learning that air has power. This became a good starting point in developing experiences for children.

Play in the Museum
These children are using powerful air "wands" to move parts of a kinetic sculpture. Not only can they observe the movement, they can also discover that a strong air pressure makes a noise. They can feel the force of the air if they put their hands in front of the air wands.

How strong does the air flow have to be to get an object to float? This child is experimenting with light and heavy objects and making discoveries in our Wind Tunnel.

Research and Redevelopment Never Ends At DCM
Visit AirWorks to see our newly designed Wind Garden. Here children can observe and experiment with how size, shape, and surface impact how objects move in air. We're not done yet! We're still doing observations to see which types of materials have the greatest impact on children's inquiries.

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