"Why my hair stick up when I jump on the trampoline...or go down slide?"
Jay's beautiful little four year voice washed over me again and again as we explored the concept of static electricity in fifth grade science. Her gorgeous little blond head with hair standing straight up against the bright yellow slide and trampoline showed the indirect evidence of static charge build-up. On our smart board slide, I had the pictures linked to Jay's question, and I admit each listening brought me to tears. Hearing her question reminded me of the exact summer day playing outside when she really wondered why her hair was so crazy!
Making the smart board slide, I had to prompt Jay several times to repeat herself. But, her natural curiosity outside was so spontaneous. It made me think about how our children are all natural scientists. They start off wondering and exploring the world around them. They develop questions, set up tests, and revise their thinking all the time.
When do we lose this? When do children start feeling that they are not good in science, not smart enough? Is it when they are given their first science test that consists mainly of vocabulary? It is when the essence of science (hands-on investigation) is replaced with chapter 4, section 2? Or, is it when we give them four choices and a time limit to answer those questions (not even their own questions)?
I'm not sure when exactly it happens...I just know I don't want to ever see MY little scientist to stop questioning the world around her. Jumping, sliding, building up electric charge! And, I will do everything in my classroom to show each of my fifth graders how they are scientists. The best kind of scientists...those who have great questions!