Misconception Series: Class 3 Science, Properties of Matter

Reading Time: 3 minutes

(1) Why was the question asked in ASSET test?

Students observe different materials in their daily life and play with many of them. This question was designed to test if students can identify the correct material, given its property.

(2) What did students answer?

Only 34% of the students could answer this question correctly. 25% of the students selected the wrong option D.

Possible reason for choosing B:Students selecting this option are probably making a random guess.

Possible reason for choosing C:Students selecting this option seem to be making a random guess. Some of these students could be thinking that the question is about clothes getting wet and are connecting the words ‘water’ and ‘cloth’ without correctly understanding the meaning of ‘ground into a paste’.

Possible reason for choosing D:It is not clear why 25% of students have chosen this option. It appears that the choice may be due to the following reasons-

• Experiences with certain materials, which have been wrongly extended e.g. an experience of rubber feeling soft to touch, when wet

• Trying to answer the question based on matching certain words, without understanding the question fully e.g. Having seen a punctured cycle tube being repaired, by being rubbed and checked using water, some students may have just related ‘water’, ‘cycle tube’ and ‘ground’ to each other.

(3) Learnings

Students are expected to answer this question based on an understanding, of various materials, that they have developed by observing and manipulating things found around them. They must have seen paper getting wet and turning soft, or plastic, cloth or rubber getting wet. They need to carefully analyse such experiences and reason out which materials will turn to paste and which will not. However, as the data indicate, students don’t seem to have experimented enough with materials and hence are relying on certain words in the question or some of their trivial experiences, to answer the question.

Observation and experimentation forms a very important role in children’s learning- not just in science, but in the overall development of analytical skills. Children do observe and are curious about various things that they observe. If this natural curiosity can be guided in an appropriate way, they can be helped to develop a capacity for structured thinking.

(4) How do we handle this?

It is important to encourage students to observe and experiment. One of the simplest ways is to allow them to observe various things around them and guide them to record those observations in a systematic way. They can be asked to –

1.record the time at which the sun rises and sets everyday throughout a week 2.record the direction in which their shadows fall and how they change at different times during a day 3.check what happens when different objects like a pencil, spoon, ball, plastic cup etc. are put in a bucket full of water 4.check what happens when two different liquids like oil and water, or lemon juice and water are mixed

Let students share and discuss the observations they have made.

For example, students might come up with different observations for point #3. Some students may say that balls float whereas others may say that they don’t.

Some students may even say that some balls float and some don’t. Allow them to question each other’s ideas. Let them explain what they did and why they think a ball floats or does not float. Some students will come up with the point that balls made of some materials float and others do not (some may speak about solid vs hollow balls).

The next step should be to allow them to experiment using balls of different materials/ structures, and see what happens. Activities such as these will help students develop a capacity for structured observation and thinking.

For more information about ASSET, write to us at info@ei-india.com

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Originally published at blog.ei-india.com on June 8, 2015.

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