Voom Factor

By Richard Flowers

"He has something called a voom.

Voom is so hard to get,

You never saw anything

Like it, I bet."

Dr. Seuss

When Dr. Seuss wrote these quotes in his fantastic children's books he probably did not know how germane and relevant his quotes would be to the daily life of children and adults. The more that you learn the more places you'll go is a noteworthy quote when it comes to teaching science to kids.

We have read Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat Comes Back where we learned about the secret ingredient called Voom. What is Voom? Dr. Seuss had it right. Voom is what makes learning fascinating, effective, enjoyable and relevant to kids. As a first grade teacher, I use the secret ingredient of voom to teach science. How do you teach science using voom?

Here's my science voom recipe:

1.1 beaker full of excitement

2.1 pound of drama

3.1 gallon of supplies

4.21 ounces of concepts

5.1 human experimenter know as Professor Tweety Bird

Who is Professor Tweety Bird?

Professor Tweety Bird is a character that I play in my classroom to perform science experiments and teach scientific concepts. Professor Tweety Bird is a world famous Professor Emeritus in science, sociology, medicine, philosophy, mathematics, English, etc., etc., etc., from Oxford University in England. He is an eccentric, fun loving professor that speaks with a thick, classical English accent. He loves to introduce science to kids using exciting hands on experiments that make the kids say, "wow in excitement. The best way to teach science is with hands on experiments where the children can actually see the process occur in front of them.

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"

Dr. Seuss

Let me share with you a few experiments that I have done in my own classroom that you can do at home to teach some basic science concepts. Don't forget to use voom!

1.The vibrating fork: Take a string and tie it around a fork. Now let it hang from both of your ears and tap it with another fork. You will hear a sound in your ears that will surprise you. The sound is actually traveling thorough the string and into your ears. It sounds like a bell! This is a form of mechanical energy being manifested as sound, which is vibration.

2.The straw through the potato: Take a raw potato in one hand and a drinking straw through the other hand. Place your index finger on the end of the straw and pierce the straw through the potato with a quick action. The straw will pierce the entire potato and you can even pull the sliver of potato out of the straw. It will be in a perfect cylinder shape. This works by mechanical energy and air pressure. The air pressure is increased since you are covering one end of the straw with you finger. This in turn reinforces the strength of the straw allowing it to go through the potato.

3.Ping ping ball on a hair dryer: Take a hair drier, turn it on to high and hold it so the air flows upward. Take a ping-pong ball and you will see it float on a cushion of air. This experiment demonstrates how air flow can float the ball in the air.

4.Penny polish: Take some of your most corroded pennies and soak them in a solution of vinegar and salt. You will find the corrosion on the pennies will vanish and the pennies will look like new. This is due to a chemical reaction that is occurring with the mixing of vinegar and salt. Also the grittiness of the salt that can help wear down some of the corrosion. This is similar to the pumice that is put into some soap to clean grease off your hands.

These are just a few experiments that you can do at home to teach science with your kids. You don't have to be Professor Tweety Bird from Oxford University either! You can invent your own character or just me yourself. But don't forget the voom. Voom is what makes it work! Whenever we do these experiments, the professor talks about what processes the experiment is demonstrating and how these apply to other machines or processes that occur around us in our daily lives. He does it with a lot of voom!

The Professor teaches the kids this acronym to learn the seven forms of energy that often show up in any experiment. Remember the word McHALES.

M-Mechanical

C-Chemical

H-Heat

A-Atomic

L-Light

E-Electric

S-Solar

One of these seven forms of energy often shows up in the experiments above. Science is all around us in everything we do. Take this time to share with your child the wonderful science experiments that you can do at home with things you have around your house. This is what Dr. Seuss talks about with his secret ingredient voom. Put voom in your learning with your children with science and everything else you do with your children. It can become a learning event that you and your child will never forget.

"You tell me, and I forget. You teach me, and I remember. You involve me, and I learn." -Benjamin Franklin

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go." -Dr. Seuss

Richard Flowers AA, BS, MS, CT, is an award winning teacher and consultant in Southern Oregon.

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