Monday, 1 December 2008

Kids Search

It's surprising how much I learn by watching my kids (now 13, 11 and 8) go through school today. I've mentioned before the experience of the Ten Year Old Wikipedia Update and also my questioning of Cursive Writing. The most recent aha is the learning associated with kids search behavior.

My recent experience was my son's write-up of his science assignment around oobleck. I didn't know it at the time, but upon consulting the define: operator (based on my son's suggestion) in Google:
Oobleck is a popular name used to refer to a stiff mixture of corn starch and water (1 part water to 1.5-2 parts corn starch) often used as a ...
First learning for me was that my son has transitioned away from any use of a paper dictionary to using the define: operator. Various teachers have banned the use of this approach (along with banning any citation of Wikipedia). But, they've not banned citing qualified sources found through those sources. So, for my kids search has become the starting point for a lot and they know that define: and Wikipedia provide starting points. And, please don't try to convince them of the value of the various dictionaries that are within arms reach of the computer. After all, then they can't copy-and-paste both the definition and the citation.

Back to his write-up. As I tried to help him, one of the questions was basically why did oobleck turn into a solid under pressure. I really didn't know the answer. After some Google searching we found that it was caused by basically squeezing the water out leaving a solid.

Along the way, he also found this great video that he provide to his teacher showing people running on oobleck and that they sink if they stop. Since, their experiments were with small amounts, this was really cool to see.

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