Water in the classroom: help devising experiments

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Water in the classroom: help devising experiments

#1  Postby ChrisTaylor » Mar 18, 2010 10:45 am

I'm a student teacher charged with devising some science 'experiences' for my grade 3/4 class. The ongoing integrated/inquiry topic is 'Aboriginal Australia'. That's what I have to work with. I can stretch it a bit: the students have already had an incursion with a 'bush tucker' man that taught them about bush survival, so I can take a scientific approach to that and have it deemed relevant, particularly if I throw in some historical stuff about what Indigenous people did to extract water from stuff in the driest parts of the continent.

I have some scientific concepts I want to explore: condensation and evaporation, but I may also end up looking at capillary action. It's a 3/4 level. We're dealing with some foundational concepts here. It needs to be tactile. Students need the change to predict, observe and explain what happens.

Anyway, the 'experience' I want to give them relates to condensation. On the way to school I'm going to pick a bunch of eucalyptus leaves (or maybe even a couple of kids of leaves) and stuff them in a plastic bag in front of the kids. They'll predict what will happen in their workbooks and then we'll put the bagged leaves aside for the rest of the day.

I need something else, though. I'm kicking around a few ideas. I really like the idea of working, over two lessons, with the idea of sourcing drinking water. It's relevant to their topic of study and allows me to explore lots of important concepts. I've thought about filtering water to make it drinkable. What could I do, for instance, to desalinate water relatively quickly using a minimum of apparatus? Could I simply take two containers, fill one with salt water and have some absorbent material (clean towel, paper, etc) connecting them? How long would it take for the originally empty container to get water in it? Would this actually remove the salt? I've also thought about different ways of straining out physically visible matter in drinking water (dirt, basically): maybe I could have the kids pass the water from a small selection of materials, including sand and charcoal and leaves.

Any ideas? Experiences? Suggestions?
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Re: Water in the classroom: help devising experiments

#2  Postby Mike_L » Mar 18, 2010 11:21 am

You could maybe do that thing with the evaporation tray? A tray is filled with moist soil or sand and a dish is placed in the middle. Plastic wrap is stretched over the tray. A pebble placed on top of the plastic wrap causes an "inward slope" (slight inverted cone) that directs the water droplets (condensed on the inner surface of the plastic wrap) to drip into the dish.
Well, that's the only one I can think of! :thumbup:
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