Explore, invent and apply

Yasmin Jayathirtha

blue-bottle The teaching of any subject has to be accompanied by practice and assessment. I have often wondered what makes a good exercise/problem for topics in chemistry. Formulae are hard to remember, the students are practically learning a new language, and so their vocabulary is limited. They may also need to remember descriptions of reactions. With all this, it is very hard to assess if a student is unable to answer because she doesn’t get the concept or because she cannot express it. Similarly, how do you assess the skills of science, observation, data collection, tabulation, and analysis? One can set exercises with instructions to be followed or provide data and ask for analysis – a chemical comprehension passage as it were.

This month, I would like to share some experiments that were used in a programme to teach reasoning skills for high school students. The experiments are a part of a set from Project SOAR (stress on analytical reasoning) and are based on Piaget’s ideas of learning. The experiments contain exploration, invention and application phases and do not need previous knowledge. Though these have been developed for high school students, I have found that students of class 7 onwards manage very well and find them enjoyable.

The author works with Centre for Learning, Bengaluru. She can be reached at yasmin.cfl@gmail.com.

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