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Discrepant Event Demonstration
Observation Skills / Introducing the Scientific Method
**Includes Printable Student Handouts**
-Experiment Sheet (materials, method, data)
This science demonstration is perfect for the first day of school, but the entire project can be a fun and shocking way to study the Scientific Method ANY day of the year! 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. They are then guided through steps 2-7 of the Scientific Method, where they design and conduct their own experiments to understand what happened.
This works as a stand-alone demonstration, or a full two-day project.
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 instructions for the teacher
NOTE: you will need the following to perform the opening demonstration:
1. medium or large potato
2. apple corer
3. vinegar or lemon juice
4. brazil nut
5. sharp knife