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Discrepant Event Demonstration
Observation Skills / Introducing the Scientific Method
*Includes a Printable Handout for students to Design their Own Experiment!
This science demonstration is perfect for the first day of school, but fun and shocking for ANY day in science! If you're using it for the first day of school, I recommend saving the activity for the last 5-10 minutes of class. Eat the candle right before the bell rings (don't tell them what it's made of), and students will leave in awe, eager to come back the next day! You will not believe how many conversations about "The Candle" are happening outside of class.
*The idea for this demonstrations was originally inspired by “The Potato Candle” by Flinn Scientific. This is not an exact copy of that experiment, but a variation.
Students practice their observation skills (Step 1 of the Scientific Method), while encountering a “discrepant event” that will pique interest in further scientific endeavors.
For more in-depth study, I have included instructions for how to turn the demonstration into a complete Scientific Method laboratory activity for the class.
A discrepant event is an event with an odd surprise, apparent contradiction, or unexplainable phenomenon. For example, seeing water boil at room temperature (which is possible inside a vacuum chamber). The usual response from students is puzzlement, curiosity, and an immediate desire to “figure it out.” In this particular demonstration, students see two odd things. First, a seemingly “normal” candle only burns for a short time before snuffing itself out goes out. Secondly, their teacher picks up said candle and nonchalantly eats it in a couple bites.
INCLUDED IN THE PDF:
-Follow-up questions for students
-PRINTABLE OBSERVATION SHEET
-PRINTABLE GUIDE FOR STUDENTS TO DESIGN THEIR OWN EXPERIMENT
-The science behind it
-step-by-step scientific method activity guide
NOTE: you will need the following to perform this demonstration:
1. medium or large potato
2. apple corer
3. vinegar or lemon juice
4. brazil nut
5. sharp knife