Friday, November 16, 2012

Movement of Bodies, Movement of Seeds Continued

For one group of children in the classroom, movement of bodies became an appealing medium through which to tell the story of a sunflower seed. Questions about the scientific accuracy of a specific part of their work (do sunflower seeds blow away on the wind?) led the group to an interest in the movement of seeds. The group decided to wait for a windy day in order to test whether or not sunflower seeds would be lifted by a strong wind, since the electric fans they were using to experiment with did not lift the seeds.

What happens to the sunflower seeds normally if there isn't much wind?
T: They don't blow. 

T: I don't think the theory of seeds blowing is true. 
D: It is. 
O: We can still make a story of it even if it isn't true. 

T. is the first and only groupmember so far to suggest that sunflower seeds cannot blow on the wind. O. is inclined to argue with T. because O. is tied to the group's initial story.  

O.'s narration of the group's story--an integral part being that the sunflower seeds "blow away and blow to the next house."
The two continue to argue, O. finding ways in which the story could be true...
O: In the story it is a strong wind. Like in winter, there's a really 
strong wind, it's growing in the fall and then drops the seed 
in the winter and then blows away. 
T: But seeds can't blow out of the snow!

...and T. continuing to demonstrate his thinking in any way that might engender understanding in his group mates:

We take a trip to the school's garden where there are several dying sunflowers. On the way, T says:

 T: If there's a seed where it fell down then I'm right. 

We reach the garden to see seeds scattered underneath drooping sunflowers. T exclaims:
T: They fell like I predicted! 

But the rest of the group is still not ready to let go of their hypothesis. 

D: [The sunflower heads] are weeping so [the seeds] fell. If they were like this (holds the head up towards the sky), then they would blow away. 

But how do we figure out what really happens? T. says over and over. The group is stuck, and running out of ways to prove or disprove their hypotheses. T. is especially frustrated.

Earlier in the week, I was reminded of seeds that truly float, that are made to float on the wind--milkweed, dandelions--by T.'s wish to create a hang-glider for his sunflower seed in order to force it to fly. Cluing the children in on my thinking may help them move forward with theirs. Back in the classroom, I mention that I have seen specific seeds that fly on the wind. 

D. gets excited, noting that he has these seeds in his backyard. He represents on the whiteboard.

Other children join in and draw seeds that they have seen before.

Seeds that they recognize, seeds that are in their own backyards.

 They plan to bring these seeds into class for our next conversation.

From the beginning of their work together, group members knew that seeds were blown by the wind. They also knew that sunflower seeds fell from sunflower heads and replanted themselves. Conflating these processes was a natural progression: how do seeds move? They fly. How do sunflower seeds move? They fly. 
Thinking about other types of seeds gives the children perspective, and perhaps even permission to look past sunflower seeds--to compare and contrast, to observe which seeds are made to move in which ways. 

After D. and others draw many seeds, T. explains his thinking in a way 
that he was unable to do before. 
T: All seeds travel differently. Some travel in the air, some travel 
by birds and then they poop them out, some like burrs stick onto 
something and travel, some travel by water. 

-Posted by Mauren Campbell

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