Science is about trying to understand the physical world. When students wonder something, feel curious about something, that is when they begin to become scientists.
Some of the best experiments, I think, are those where the materials make you want to play with them, interact with them, wonder about them. What are they? Why do they behave the way they do?
For the science teacher, I think one of the most difficult and interesting problems is this. How can we create the conditions where students can experience the science process: making observations, wondering about them, asking questions, designing experiments to answer those questions, and making sense of the results? This is particularly difficult and interesting when we have public school conditions of multiple, large classes.
One solution to this problem is to use a �guided discovery� method. An example of this kind of experiment is one about viscosity, which I did with my sixth grade classes. Students are given materials they can observe to provide them with the background to ask a question. Then, with the help of the teacher and the ideas of fellow students, the class comes up with an idea for an experiment. Again, with the help of the teacher, procedures for recording and making sense of the data come from the class discussion. Click here to see this experiment.
Guided discovery is the beginning of inquiry. My seventh grade classes developed, with my help, a series of student-designed experiments about density and buoyancy and why things float. With student-designed experiments, I, as the teacher, often did not know what the next experiment was going to be. The whole process was an experiment, and the results were surprising. Click here to see this series of experiments