The current weather in Regina, SK is -35, with a windchill of -48 degrees Celsius. This means a few things: (1) it is ridiculously cold out, (2) many of the busses didn’t run today, (3) I had a small class, and (4) I had a great opportunity for a teachable moment.
I managed to crawl out of bed after my second alarm (instead of 5 more snooze buttons) today, which meant I had an extra 20 minutes this morning before leaving. I boiled my kettle to make a warm beverage, but I decided instead to try throwing the boiled water in the air. It was pretty dark out, but it steamed up and fell down kind of like snow. It was so cool.
On the way to school, I didn’t know what my class sizes would be like, so I assumed I would just carry on with my lesson, but I arrived to a small class of only 7 students. It was pretty clear that they didn’t want to do the review I had planned, and the rest of their class really needed to be here for it.
I ran to the staff room, grabbed the kettle, and we boiled a pot of water. My Math 9 class is normally pretty quiet, so when we started trying to predict what would happen, we generated only a few ideas.
- It’s going freeze on the ground
- It’s not going to do anything
- It’s going to make ice pellets
- Maybe it will make snow (I accidentally left the tab for the news story of “Making Snow in Siberia” open
That’s what we had to work with, so we quickly grabbed our coats and headed outside. At this point, I was a bit nervous, since if this bombed, it could go down in history as the WORST lesson ever.
I poured a cup of water. We counted down, and I threw it up. It was SO COOL. It turned into steam/fog/snow before it hit the ground, so we did it over and over until the kettle ran out.
We came back inside, and my students had so many new questions. We started wondering what would happen if it was cold water instead of boiling water. We filled up the kettle again, and got a glass of cold water too. Again, we started predicting.
- The hot water will do the same thing
- The cold water will form chunky ice and freeze faster
- The cold water will freeze on the ground
- The cold water will hit the ground first
I got smart this time and recorded it. The video is perfect (the cold water thrower is behind he hot water thrower), but you can get the picture.
Turns out, my students were right! How awesome. I wanted to crunch the numbers on why/how this happened, but I couldn’t find too much in my mad-panic google search this morning. Does anyone have any great resources for a follow up next week?
We also threw the rest of the kettle in the air too. Please note: no students were harmed (or burned) in the making of this film. Just a bit of minor spillage.
My conclusion? I love teachable moments. As class was leaving, I heard my students telling their friends about the cool thing we did today. I am so happy that I engaged my class in science today, and they didn’t even know it!