I have been doing simple science experiments with my boys for years. My newly five year old enjoys them so much that he often tries to design his own experiments. This was the case recently when he was using a permanent marker to write on paper. He observed the ink “leaking” through the paper. He excitedly asked, “Can we do an experiment about that?” He decided he wanted to stack five pieces of paper and see if the marker leaked through to the bottom piece.
He discovered he had to really soak the papers to get it all the way through. We decided to test some other types of paper as well. We examined card stock, printer paper, parchment paper and wax paper. We talked about thickness, flexibility and texture. My oldest son discovered the marker did not leak through the wax paper. We also tried different types of writing instruments such as crayons and kid markers.
My five year old then decided we should try the experiment with water. He wanted to see what water might leak through. Luckily it was a nice day and we headed outside with some water and a variety of materials to test.
We discovered water soaks through paper board and goes right through a sifter,
but not through a plastic container, unless it has holes in it.
My five year old observed that when we tried to pour water on a towel, it didn’t go through, but created a waterfall off the side.
After several attempts and pouring the water closer to the towel, we got it to leak through.
We tried the different types of paper we had used inside with the marker.
We discovered the shape of a piece of wood also created a water fall, but the water soaked in as well.
Since this was a spur of the moment experiment, there was no time for me to study up on the scientific terms that could explain why a marker goes through paper. (Though my husband did introduce the concept of chromatography later that night when the kids told him about the experiment) Even if children are not learning a specific concept, they are learning through experimentation. They are making observations. They are learning to predict and test. They are discovering properties of different materials. They are drawing conclusions. Learning experiences like these not only develop a love of science and teach basic skills that will help in future more complicated endeavors, they also give a child confidence to be creative. This experiment was my son’s idea and spawned new learning for himself and his brother and sister. Allowing a child to follow his own curiosity creates a rich learning experience.
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