As we continue with our inquiry experiments in 514, I keep thinking back to the Bubble Activity with the 2nd grade students at Haw River Elementary. I think I would have been so much more prepared had I known more about the students themselves and their misconceptions about science, water, and bubbles. I know the students thought that the objects would float better in the bubble solution than in the regular water, and they were surprised to see that wasn’t the case. The students didn’t seem to have any misconceptions about surface tension because they really didn’t know what it is to begin with. When we spoke with them about the “skin” of the water, they seemed to understand a little bit better, but they were still attributing the floating or sinking to the object’s weight and whether it was buoyant or not.
In my student teaching placement, I haven’t been able to witness very much in terms of science inquiry experiments because they typically occur on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I did see some of the results from an ongoing experiment about ice and states of matter. The students have been recording their data on a big sheet of chart paper and I could see how their estimates were off at first, but they were realizing the trends in how fast the ice melts and how the volume remains constant. It would have been interesting for me to have been able to ask students questions prior to the experiment so that I could assess their understanding before and after the experiment. But I am sure my CT has been doing these assessments as well. Hopefully, I will be able to witness more experiments firsthand, especially before I take over teaching myself.
Students’ misconceptions can definitely help OR hinder a science experiment. Sometimes students are so convinced that they are right, it takes a lot longer for them to realize that what they believed to be truth is actually a misconception. But when students do realize their misconception, it tends to stick with them longer, leaving a lasting impression.
In my own classroom, I will gage my students’ conceptual understandings by asking questions before, during, and after inquiry experiments. If I have my students journal as well, they will be able to see firsthand how their understanding changed over the course of the experiment.