Teachable Moments

Yesterday I visited the Dragonfly classroom and a teacher opened the windows to let in the fresh air.  At that point there was a rather noisy truck in the parking lot with hoses snaking their way from it to the door of the building.  When the children wondered what that truck was doing several hypotheses emerged:

  • It was watering the plants
  • It was sucking up the ground
  • It was making the plants grow
  • It was cleaning the carpet
  • It was  building something
  • It was moving rocks
  • It was spraying water
  • It was getting boxes

What was the right answer?  We were curious!  One teacher went upstairs to scout out the lay of the land and then brought along the class to investigate.  

At the top of the stairs and the end of the hoses, we found Mr. Marcelo, who was scrubbing away at the carpet.

He told us that of the two hoses, the smaller one brought soapy water in it to suspend the dirt, and that the larger hose was a suction hose to extract the dirty water. Everyone felt the hoses and found that one was warm and the other was not.

 Mr. Marcelo described the kind of motor that was in the truck and also the types of solutions that were needed for different carpet fibers.  Even the adults’ vocabularies were expanded by his explanations!

This was an example of the kinds of teachable moments that families can engage in at home or on the road.  Wondering (“How many gallons of gas will we need?”) and guessing (“I think Grandpa will be here in 12 minutes,” or “I think this clementine will have 10 segments in it.”) and then investigating are wonderful tools for expanding children’s thinking.  Making scientific hypotheses and proving them is fun when it becomes a game that both adults and children play together!