I’ve gotten out of the habit of uploading the Science Club materials here. Which is a shame, I think it’s nice to put them up and make them available for others. It takes a lot of work to put the sessions together, and it’s nice to think that someone else might get some use out of it too!
So, here is a session that I ran a few months ago about our senses.
This is the booklet that I made for this session:
How many senses do we have?
Scientists don’t agree on how many senses we have.
There are five basic senses that everyone knows: Taste, Smell, Touch, Hearing and Sight.
But we can also sense temperature, pain, movement, balance, and where our body is.
Can you think of anything else that you can sense? ____________________________
The children had lots of ideas like how tired we are, how much time has passed, whether or not we need the toilet.
We looked at a simple picture of a person and talked about which parts of the body sensed different things.
I made a simple feely box with two holes, one I left open, the other I had a closed sock inside. So when children put their hands in the holes, on one side they felt the hidden object through a sock, and on the other they felt the object directly.
Each of the children tried to identify the hidden objects (a teddy bear and a plastic spatula) by feeling through the sock and then by feeling without the barrier of the sock. We talked about how much easier it was to feel without the sock in the way.
We then did two taste experiments. One with crisps:
There are four bowls of crisps.
Hold your nose and taste one crisp from each bowl.
Write down the flavour that you think each crisp is.
Then, taste another crisp, this time without holding your nose. Write down the flavour that you think the crisp is now.
The other taste experiment was with jelly beans:
Close your eyes and hold out your hand.
Someone will put a jelly bean into your hand.
Bite the jelly bean in half and eat one half of it.
Guess the flavour of the jelly bean, and tell your partner your guess.
Now open your eyes and look at the colour of the half a jelly bean.
Eat the second half of the jelly bean.
Guess the flavour now. Does it taste different now that you know what colour it is?
We’re going to test whether age makes people better or worse at guessing temperatures.
Who do you think will be most accurate at guessing the temperatures, (circle your prediction).
Children Teenagers Adults – we’re fortunate that our group has a good spread of ages.
Put your hand in the two bowls of water and guess what temperature they are.
Then we will use a thermometer to measure the real temperature.
I calculated the average error for each of the three groups so that we could compare how accurate they were.
As I had expected, the adults were very accurate in their estimations, the children were quite a long way out, the teenagers were somewhere in between. We talked a bit about reference temperatures and how we used them to help us in our estimations.
We’re going to test whether heat makes smells disperse faster. I set up two cups with water in: one hot, one cold; and put a few drops of essential oil in each one.
Which smell do you think will spread quicker, the one in hot water or the one in cold water? (circle your prediction)
Which of the smells did you smell first?
Which one did most people smell first?
Can you think of any way we could improve on this experiment? ________________________
This was a very interesting one. I used two different essential oils: lemon for hot and peppermint for cold. The children were able to identify that the different scents might have effected how quickly people noticed them. We talked about the difficulty of repeating this experiment, since the room was now rather lemon-scented.
Finally, I showed the children a braille slate and stylus (they’re pretty easy to get online).
They had a go at reading some messages that I had written earlier.
Then – using a ‘writing braille’ alphabet so they didn’t have to reverse the letters in their heads – they all had a go at writing their own messages.