‘Bob’s adventures in space’, RSC global experiment adapted for preschoolers.

The current Royal a Society of Chemistry global experiment is Mission: Starlight – a global experiment in UV protection. http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/resource/res00002073/mission-starlight-a-global-experiment-on-uv-protection?cmpid=CMP00007440

The activity is designed for students from primary age upwards and this blog describes how I adapted it to use with my daughter who is 4. We have named this activity “Bob’s adventures in space”.

We chose Bob to be our spaceman since he was made of plastic and therefore likely to fare better in extreme conditions. Bob is detecting the UV light using UV colour changing beads hung around his neck as a necklace. The darker/more vivid the colour, the higher the UV exposure. First we watched some CBeebies stargazing clips about astronauts and then moved onto testing. We first tested where best to place Bob for maximum UV exposure trying both the windowsill and the greenhouse.  The picture above shows UV is higher in the greenhouse as his beads are brighter so that has become his spaceship.

Bob is now wrapped in his first set of astronaut clothes, made from tin foil.

Adapting the experiment for preschoolers, some considerations –

Setting a context – I felt that for a younger audience it was better to attach the experiment to a character to stimulate interest. It is far nicer to be able to say “shall we go check on Bob?” than “shall we go check the beads in the Petri dish?”

Recording the results – preschoolers obviously have limited capabilities for reading and writing so a photographic record is useful for comparison, an iPad or phone camera is fine. The beads also lose their colour quite quickly when brought inside so recording the results “in the field” is a bit more accurate.

Scientific thinking – with preschool age children the activity is all about asking questions. So I asked R things like “what do you predict will happen to Bob’s beads during the night?” and we looked early the next morning. Also “how many beads should we use?” “Should we change the beads for each experiment?” The answers they give don’t matter so much as the conversation that occurs.

Caveat: I am not a preschool or EYFS teacher, my teaching experience is firmly with 11 year olds through to  adults. This activity has grown from my own involvement with the global experiment each year with school and having an inquisitive 4 year old.

Also, obviously, beads are small and fiddly (and a choking hazard) so children should be supervised at all times with them. Adults should risk assess the activity before and throughout. There are other UV detecting products around which may be better for a younger audience eg, sticks (UV light sabre anyone?)

 

 

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