Experimenting with eyedroppers

Experiment verb – 
try out new concepts or ways of doing things

We wondered what the Studio Yellow students understood about the concept of experiments.  Therefore we posed the question at meeting  – What is an experiment? Elliott replied – It is when you try stuff out – like boiling water.

Introducing the children to small cups of clear liquid, water color paints and the familiar tool of an eyedropper we challenged the children to experiment.  On hearing about the challenge, before starting to experiment, they theorized what would happen.

Parker – Colors will mix.
Jesse – It would make a hot dog.
Parker – It would turn a different color.
Elliott – The water would boil.
Louis – The water would turn white.
Avery – Green.
Case – Yellow and orange.
Avery – It might turn a rainbow.
Violet – All the colors.
Addie – I don’t think it is going to mix.

What we hadn’t told the children was that there were two different types of clear liquid – oil and water.  Would the children see a difference between the two cups? 

Initially the children narrated as they worked, dropping water color paints into small jars of the liquids.  Nobody commented that they thought the liquids were different but they did comment on different reactions.

Sofia – It turned purple. (water)
Sofia – It’s making like a zebra. (oil)
Addie – I’m trying to mix the color. (oil)
Addie mixes water into oil and comments  – It’s getting higher.
Violet – It’s doing dots. (oil)
Addie – That is what it did to mine. (oil)
Violet – It’s weird to see it all (the paint) on the bottom. (oil)
Avery – The paints are at the side and the bottom. (oil)

Revisiting at meeting the next day, the children shared with the larger group what had happened while experimenting in individual jars.

Violet – One you couldn’t see through.
Jonah – Maybe the liquid just turned into that color.

Moving forward, we placed the liquids in larger containers. What would happen if we dropped five drops of red paint into each of the containers?

Noticing the paint in water:
Violet – It stayed on top.
Wes – Some are going to the bottom. It really looks red.
Violet – It looks like paint slops, like little drips.

Examining the paint in the oil:
Violet – It’s only going down.
Wes – It looks like bubbles.
Violet – Like bugs.
Case – Like fish in a bowl.

Blowing gently on each of the bowls the children commented…
Elliott – It’s wiggling.
Wes – They’re changing sizes.
Elliott – They’re like dots and they don’t mix together.

Violet – Now it’s all mixed.
Wes – It’s not drops but a little cracky.
Elliott – So, it’s not the same. This one has dots and this one is mixed together.

Moving the experiment into the sensory table we further explored our theories.
Violet (after adding yellow paint into the water) – We thought we would see yellow drops in light red liquid but it turned orange.   

Predicting what would happen to the yellow drops in oil. 
Violet – It will look the same.  We will still see yellow drops.
Jonah – But it looks weird.
Violet – Maybe it is a different yellow.

It appeared the children recognized that the same substance added to different liquids reacted differently.  The ‘a ha’ moment seemed to come when we commented if the yellow paint was the same what else could have been different?

Violet pointing to the bowl of water – That was clear; pointing to the oil – That was yellow.

Determined to get the two liquids to look the same:

Violet – What if we got a spoon and mixed it, maybe it would turn purple.
Jonah – Violet, I had the same idea.
Violet – Maybe we will see all those different colors.

It's turning every color, we see lots of bubbles. There is too much to count.
The drops disappeared we mixed it all up. I don't have any bubbles.



Wes – That yellow when I put it in looks like eggs.  There it looks like dark yellow.






Adding green – when I put it that one in it looks black, but when I put it in that one it sinks.






All the bubbles float very slowly.  It turns into a different color.

Listening as the children experiment, we are noticing that on their own, they are realizing that these two bowls of liquid are not the same. Even as they add identical materials to each, the reactions are very different.