Yup. The explanation must come first for the intellect to be engaged when the demo happens. And done right, it also can be used to create intense interest, suspense and investment in the outcome based on the student's predictions. Affirmation of a theory in which students are personally invested by a dramatic demonstration is a powerful reinforcing mechanism.
From: Stuart, Ralph <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**KEENE.EDU>
To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Sent: Fri, Oct 20, 2017 8:30 am
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] FW: [DCHAS-L] Teacher Makes Chemistry Fun With Exploding Experiments
> >I have personally seen that the most effective way to get the people I have worked with interested in science is by targeting them in 4-8th grade AND using hands-on or visual (demos) activities that make them think "how does that happen?" and then explaining how.
Someone recently pointed out an article on this topic to me that was written for college physics labs but seems likely to apply to chemistry labs as well. The key Lesson Learned was that having the students predict what will happen before the demo or experiment is the most important learning element, whether they are right or wrong with their prediction.
See "Role of physics lecture demonstrations in conceptual learning"
Kelly Miller, Nathaniel Lasry, Kelvin Chu, and Eric Mazur
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research 9, 020113 (2013)
"First, roughly one out of every five observations of a demonstration is inconsistent with the actual outcome. Second, students who understand the underlying concepts before observing the demonstration are more likely to observe it and remember it correctly. Third, students are roughly 20% more likely to observe a demonstration correctly if they predict the outcome first, regardless of whether the prediction is correct or not. Last, conceptual learning is contingent on the student making a correct observation. This study represents an initial step towards understanding the disconnect reported between demonstrations and student learning."
>These things that many people think excite the students scare just as many away.
I have had this experience personally and observed it with pre-college students as well.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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