INSTITUTE FOR INQUIRY
AND IMPROVING CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES
from Wynne Harlen's book The Teaching of Science in Primary
many ways that activities can be changed. Look at the Parachute
activity for example:
attitudes - stimulating curiosity - The parachute activity
might begin with the experience of throwing several parachutes,
of different sizes and even shapes, and noticing how they
fall. The question as to why the differences would inevitably
for skill development - Opportunities for children
to develop their process skills are limited by the lack
of any investigation once the parachute is constructed.
There are variables which affect the fall of the parachute,
such as shape, area and length of strings, which children
should explore in a controlled way as they test out various
ideas about why there are differences between one and another.
cooperatively and combining ideas - There could be
instructions for pooling ideas within a group, planning
how find out 'what happens if...' and preparing a group
report to others. At intervals in the work, the children
should meet together as a class to listen to reports of
each others' progress and share ideas.
for scientific concept development - A main point of
this activity is to enable children to recognize the role
of air in slowing down the fall of the parachute. With
this in mind it would, therefore, be useful for children
to observe how quickly the parachute falls when it is not
allowed to open. Exploration of larger and smaller parachutes
might further children's idea about the effect of the air.
The question of why the parachute falls at all could also
be discussed leading to a recognition of the main forces
acting on the parachute when it is falling. Giving the
'answer' to why the parachute moves slowly is not allowing
the children to use and explore their own ideas; so this
part should be omitted.
to real life and everyday experience - The uses of
air resistance are many and not restricted to parachute
descents from aircraft. They can relate to everyday events,
such as riding a bicycle in strong wind and the 'helicopter'
wings of sycamore seeds seen drifting gently to the ground.
this activity will undoubtedly take up more time. This
has to be balanced by the much greater learning which takes