By Jared Hottenstein
How do you make online learning interactive? I wrestled with that question when my classroom became a computer screen. Science is everywhere, but we seldom take the time to stop and think about it.
Science is All Around Us!
Maybe online learning is the perfect opportunity to get kids to take a closer look at the science all around them. It doesn’t have to be complicated. What if I use simple materials that all my students have in their homes to highlight some science and challenge kids to go on an online search to explain the science that’s at work? From that question, Science Scavenger Hunts were born.
We started with a metal spoon. Look at your reflection in the back of a spoon. It’s normal. Now flip the spoon around and look at your reflection in the front of the spoon. Your reflection is flipped upside down.
There’s some science at work here. I sent my students on an online scavenger hunt to find the answer. Some found a kid-friendly website while others watched a few videos. All of them figured out that the curved spoon reflected light rays diagonally to flip their reflections upside down.
Just Look in the Fridge…
The refrigerator is a great place to find science scavenger hunts. What happens if you put a raw egg into the freezer? No complicated set up is required. My students can grab an egg and try it out. When they check on it the next day and see that it’s cracked, and the science scavenger hunt begins.
Stack up some frozen waffles and keep whacking out the bottom waffle with a wooden spoon. The stack of waffles does not spill across your kitchen counter because the science of inertia is hard at work. Can my students hop online and figure out what’s going on?
Science Scavenger Hunts are more than just asking students to search online for an answer to a science question. Science Scavenger Hunts create a curiosity which drives students to search online and find an answer.
A Penny Scavenger Hunt
If I slap a penny on the kitchen table and cover it with a clear glass, I can still see the penny. Slosh some water into the glass, and suddenly the penny disappears. Why does that happen? When I see a penny sitting on my kitchen table suddenly disappear, the science becomes real. I can see it, and I want to understand what’s going on. Searching effectively and efficiently online is a skill that students will use the rest of their lives.
Some very simple things that most kids can do at home with the help of an adult make great science scavenger hunts. Why do coffee lids have a tiny hole in them? What causes bubbles when water boils? Why doesn’t the glass of ice water overflow when all the ice melts? What makes apples turn brown when you cut them open and leave them sit out? Why does a metal spoon feel colder than a plastic spoon?
STEM Scavenger Hunts
We can even add STEM learning to science scavenger hunts. Students can collect a few twist ties from some bread bags and try to design a water strider.
They can create some chemistry concoctions by grabbing a box of baking soda from the pantry and try mixing it with different things in the refrigerator. Why do get a fizzing reaction when I mix baking soda with ketchup, pickle juice, salad dressings, and orange juice?
See for yourself!
Science Scavenger Hunts are hiding in your house. Start rummaging around and see what you find. It won’t be long before you start seeing science everywhere.