With Halloween just around the corner why not channel some of their sugar fuelled excitement into a creative science lesson!

Use your pumpkin as a science lesson!

Use your pumpkin as a science lesson!

Children are imagining all manner of monsters and goblins that they could be to scare the treats out of their neighbours. All you need to do is give them a little structure and you have an instant biology lesson that you can easily cater to any age group from kindergarten to Yr 6.

Have your students brainstorm monsters.

Whether real (Komodo Dragon) or imagined.

Discuss with your students what it means to be a living thing.

What do all living things do?

Have your students create their own monster. Tie it into your art lesson and have them, draw, cut, mold or paint their creatures. But be sure that their monsters are living, ie. they need to be able to describe/show you how their creature can eat, breathe, poop etc.

And don’t forget about plants, there are some scary monstrous plants out there too, not just the Venus Flytrap!

Click here for some other great Halloween lesson ideas.

Though our content is aimed at a slightly older audience with a few small changes all of our experiments and activities can be used for a kindergarten science lesson.

Aim for an experiential learning approach.

  • If children are physically able to do the activities, have them explore the activity at their own pace. If they are not, use the activity as a demonstration or prep materials so children are able to do some of the activity themselves.
  • Allow them to be amazed, excited and have fun with the activities. They have a lot of time to build their knowledge, but by exposing them to science you’ll inspire them to explore and question their world while creating experiences they can build on later.

Encourage play

  • Increasing amounts of research show that play is an important part of development. Children learn how things act in different situations while developing problem solving and fine motor skills.
  • At such a young age, the process can be the most important part. Children learn the basics of the scientific method through trial and error and by deciding to try something in a different way.
  • Don’t be afraid to just let them play.

Put learning in an everyday context

  • Encourage questions and have them think about where/when/how etc they might have experienced this before in their lives.
  • Use everyday language and materials to demonstrate ideas. This avoids extra explanations while emphasising that science is part of our everyday experiences.
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Let us know what you think down in the comments!

Teacher’s notes for the Thaumatrope and it’s Optical Illusion

Have fun with the thaumatrope! Kids really enjoy finding out about themselves and learning about the limits our own bodies place on our ability to observe reality is an important part of being a scientist.

Teacher’s Notes PDF

What is actually going on?

Kids will be very comfortable with the concept of a camera and are likely to apply this conceptual model to how they see – and certainly the eye itself follows the same rules of optics as a camera. However we “see” not just with the eye but with the brain.

The eye collects the light and focuses it on the retina at the back of the eye. Here, the light signals are turned into electrical signals that are transported to the brain by the optic nerve.

It is the brain that processes these signals and assigns meaning to them. This processing takes time and our brains can only ’see’ about 20 images a second. If images are presented faster than this, then they merge into one another. Movies consist of a sequence of still images captured by a movie camera at about 24 images (frames) every second. These are then projected on to the movie screen at the same rate and we see them as an uninterrupted moving picture. TV uses this same principle, but this works at 25 images a second.

Early (silent) movies used 16 images (frame) per second but this speed was not really fast enough to present as smooth movement. These old movies are now shown at 24 frames per second and it is this speeding up that gives these movies their characteristic ‘faster than normal’ view of the world.

What is happening in the brain?

Originally, the illusion of the thaumatrope was explained by invoking a ‘processing delay’ in the brain. This delay was called persistence of vision to explain how a new image ‘runs into’ a previous image. This theory uses the idea of an after image which remains in our vision system which merges with the next image in a sequence of rapidly changing images.

As we gradually understand more about how the brain works, this simple model appears to be inadequate and modern theory suggests a pair of visual illusions are working together. These are Phi phenomenon and Beta movement.

Teacher’s Notes PDF

© 2009 What is the Science?