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Playing with Ideas

A “science talk” is a structure we use at Opal School to invite the children to play with ideas. It is intended to provoke thinking and to build shared understanding of a scientific question that we think the children might have some theories about. This structure is one of the ways we encourage children to be researchers and co-creators of their own learning. We invite them to pay attention to their wonderings and to connect their thinking to the ideas of their peers. This is one example of how we get a window into the children’s thinking, learn more about what they already know, and what they wonder about. This is how we nurture a culture of inquiry.

Inspired by our recent field trip to the Oregon Zoo, we asked the children:  

What is the difference between human brains and animal brains?

After our science talk, we invited the children to continue playing with this idea and share their theories using a variety of different materials in the classroom. Here are some of their theories:

MR: We have a ball that lights up the energy. It lights up the brain if it has an idea- if it doesn’t have an idea it doesn’t light up.

  IMG_1929NJ: The whole picture is what animals need. The blue is water, the green is food, the yellow is shelter, the pink is care. I forgot what the brown is. Later I’m gonna do another one about human brains. It’s still gonna have food and water and shelter in it. Animals are actually a lot like humans!

Teacher: Are they different at all?

NJ: They just think differently. What we need isn’t different. But what we want? Yes!

  IMG_1950TG: The brains are different but not just that—they’re different in lots of ways—like how they speak. The brains are just brains but they work differently. Like some animal brains say hunting is the only way to get food. Some say scavenging is the only way to get food. The people know you can get food both ways. They have a connection but they don’t really have the same brain. The connection is they also know how to do the same things but an animal thinks he might not be able to do this but the human know he could do this. They’re just brains.

  IMG_1992EM: There’s a building inside the brain and when the building gets knocked down the button gets pressed and the brain thinks of something. When the building is up, the brain isn’t thinking.

RR: This one is a human brain and that one is an animal brain. I drew them close up. The human brain is bigger. The human brain is smarter. If a human sees a ball they’ll just grab it and play with it. And if any animal sees a ball they’ll just not play. People are smarter because they play!

  IMG_1928RM: Human brains have lots and lots of wires and the wires go to the middle of the brain and in the middle of the brain is this big ball that has all of the ideas and stuff like that. The ideas slowly leak out of the ball and the wires go around and around and it goes to the wires and then the whole brain knows about that. Once they glue the ideas onto the wall of the brain—they get new ideas and once they fill up the whole brain they remember them for a long time. Then they take them off and have more room to put new ideas up.

 ZB: Animal brains are wild- they think more about life than themselves because they have dangers that we don't have. But we think about ourselves more than life- like clothes and stuff. 

LG: Animals think about surviving.

ZB: Yeah, and we don't have to as much. 

  IMG_1927SM: This is a human brain. What makes us different is what we like. Animals like different things. But humans like different things. We all like different things. Every brain is special. 

December 02, 2013