Discovery channelled

7th September 2007 at 01:00
What happens to a waterhole in Africa and why do penguins huddle? Science projects can fire class imagination. Zoe Crompton and Sharon Allen show how

ages 5-7

This activity captures young children's imagination and transports them to the African plains where animals visit a waterhole to drink.

What to do: Create your waterhole with a tray of damp sand, a bowl of water and a variety of large toy African animals.

Read the book The Waterhole by Graeme Base to the children in your class. This is more than a simple counting book each page is richly illustrated with the distinctive flora and fauna of a different habitat. Encourage the children to play independently, moving the animals across the damp sand to make footprints.

Questions to get children thinking:

Who made these footprints?

Why do animals visit a waterhole?

The tortoises ask: "Where has all the water gone?" What would be your answer?

What will our waterhole look like in a week's time?

Which African animals would not visit the waterhole at the same time?

If we had a waterhole in the school grounds, what animals would visit it?

The aim is that the children ask questions and find answers, then make simple comparisons.

They will learn that animals need food and water to stay alive.

They will also find out about the plants and animals in the local environme **

Zoe Crompton is a Professional Development Leader at the National Science Learning Centre

ages 7-11

The following investigation can be carried out as part of the QCA Keeping Warm topic.

To start off the lesson, show the children a video clip or poster about emperor penguins.

The children can then discuss in pairs why they think the penguins are huddling together.

(Someone usually suggests that it is to keep warm if not, try using questioning to extend their thinking skills). Plan an investigation to see if penguins that huddle together would stay warmer than ones standing on their own.

Use small water bottles filled with warm water to model the penguins.

Set up the investigation by placing six of the bottles together and one alone. Discuss with the class how to make it a fair test by using the same size bottle, filling it up with the same amount of water at the same temperature, and putting the bottles in the same place in the classroom.

Use a data logger or thermometers to compare the heat loss of the water in the "huddled" bottles with that in the bottle standing alone to see which loses heat more quickly over 20 to 30 minutes.

Plenary: Discuss the children's conclusions and how they think the penguins decide who goes in the middle of the huddle.

As an extension, the children could use the internet to find out about penguins huddling.

Reference: Active Science: Bk. 4 (Active Science) by Tony Laukaitis (Belair Publications Lt **

Sharon Allen teaches at Woodthorpe Primary School in York

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