ReSET CEO and Founder Harold Sharlin reports:
Today I visited a class of four year olds at CentroNia day care center in Mt. Pleasant in DC. CentroNia is bilingual. I had spent 4 one-hour sessions with the day care's 8 teachers. We worked on a simple series circuit with a 6-volt battery, a wall switch and a flash light bulb in a socket.
My objective was to so familiarize them with the circuit that they would feel confident to do experiments on electricity. I supplied each teacher with a kit of
six volt battery
flashlight bulb and socket
25 feet of bell wire
In the class sessions with the teachers I had them assemble a series circuit from scratch. Working with the wire strippers was hilarious. They were a fascinating and fascinated group. One teacher took her kit home to show her husband. He wanted to know whether he could touch the battery terminals. Sure, she said, it's only 6-volts. I also emphasized safety saying that they must tell their children that the 110-volts in their homes was not for touching.
We talked about electricity in the home and its uses, about generating stations, and AC vs. DC. Not all of this information was needed for their classes but they all reached a certain level confidence.
At the end of four hours of class they were ready to teach electricity. I gave each a simple teacher's handbook as backup.
In the classroom with the children, I was amazed at the teacher. She had done the experiment with the class previously but they were eager to see it once more. They sat around in a circle and very well behaved. Ann, the lead teacher did the experiment and Sylvia sat with the children in the circle.
Ann emphasized the idea of circle/circuit. The children identified each part as she held them up: battery, bulb, switch, and wire. She held up a wire and said where shall I put this: On the battery they shouted. Where do I put the other end? On the switch. The children were satisfied to watch, quietly, while Ann connected all the wires and threw the switch. She also had a picture book that had pictures showing electricity including lightening.
I could not have been more pleased. This was what I hoped would happen after four hours instructing teachers. There will be eight teachers teaching 83 two, three and four year olds about electricity. I am scheduled to meet the other classes also.
Me? I was the visitor whom they called, Professor Harold in English and Spanish
Editor's Note: For information on research involving science for pre-K students, check out http://nieer.org/psm/?article=298